Saturday, February 22, 2014

Failure Coach XXVI

Missouri Athletic Club, Saint Louis

The banquet room at the Missouri Athletic Club was set to receive 500 guests for the ceremonial presentation of the second Alan Edgewater Failure First Foundation scholarship. Coach Siena was thrilled that Andrew Valentine could get into town for the festivities along with his mom and dad. Andrew’s High School coach and a handful of others were able to make the trip as well. This was a big deal for the kid from Arlington, Ohio. The coach was interviewed by the Saint Louis Business Journal, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Public Radio and some others. He was holding court at the Hyatt Regency at the suggestion of Jan Abbeshire. Jan wanted the coach to do as many interviews as she could possibly schedule prior to the actual event to diffuse the possibility that the coach would go off-script. Coach Siena, it turns out, was coachable. Jan shadowed him through the one-on-one sessions. She promised everyone a bio of the winner of the award after it was announced. So, in essence, the gala ceremony would be more photo op than anything else.

The talking points:
1.      The award was given to deserving candidates with character but without regard to grades, athletic accomplishment or economic need.
2.      The scholarship was set up to pay for all tuition for four years.
3.      The only requirement was to meet periodically with the committee to report.
4.      The award cannot be revoked for any reason.
5.      The first winner, Johnny Appleseed, while currently navigating some legal trouble surrounding an incident on South Beach with two fellow classmates, is expected to continue at the U for another year. The committee asks that the media focus on the current winner and his plans.

Coach Siena had prepared remarks that painted a picture of the town in Ohio where Andrew Valentine was raised. He talked about the beautiful village of Arlington, located eight miles south of Findlay on State Route 68 in Ohio, a bedroom community located in the rich farming region of Hancock County where residents enjoy a peaceful living experience where family-friendly activities. He talked about The Arlington Good Samaritan Center, a retirement and continuing care facility located directly west of the school is where Andy last saw his grandmother. The audience understood Nana Valentine to be a fanatic fan of the Arlington Red Devils and the entire community shared in the sadness of her passing.  The close-knit community came together at school for a chicken barbeque in her memory.  In this small-town atmosphere, children are the focal point of the community. 
When Andrew Valentine took the podium, there was hardly a dry eye. He read the audience perfectly with a demeanor of grace and gratitude. He expressed heartfelt thanks to his family and friends; Coach Siena and the selection committee; Alan Edgewater and the Failure First Foundation; and the first winner Johnny Appleseed. He was a soft spoken winner. He paused briefly, cleared his throat and sang a cappella, without instrumental accompaniment, something he had written and composed himself as a tribute to his grandmother, a woman who influenced him greatly and encouraged him to pursue life as an artist.

Read, Enunciate, project, pronounce
Improvise the method. The talent is a fact.
Study, debate, articulate and announce.
You must believe, if you think you can act.
There are no small roles. You’ll stand out among the rest
Listen to the words and listen well,
“Oh honey, you always know what’s best.”
When to pause, when to gesture, you can always tell.
To Dream the Impossible Dream.
Everything is rehearsed: scene by scene.
Coffee cup and saucer: Black. No sugar. No cream.
The play is a hit, but what does it mean?
Acting, directing and winning your heart.
The final curtain. Bravo! The audience is for you,
“Always do your best. Understand. Play the part.”
Carry on and excel in everything you do.

Thunderous enthusiastic applause.
As cheer and joy arise.
The audience approves without pause.
Good to know, but not a surprise .
Prepare and be ready for your cue 
Face each day. The show must go on.
You know exactly what to do.
House lights go up and suddenly you are gone. 

We are an ensemble cast.
We knew that one day,
The performance would be your last.  
You were great Nana; it was your way.
On to the future, with regard for the past.
The show will go on.
Thanks Nana.
We will go on.

The performance was unexpected and got an immediate and enthusiastic audience applause. Andrew smiled and  took a breath. He then announced, in a soft voice, that he intended to take his talent to Oberlin College in Ohio where he hoped to study music engineering. Jan Abbeshire was sure that the image of Andy Valentine singing at the Missouri Athletic Club podium would get media pick up. Along with Jan’s press packet of information on the uniqueness of this type of scholarship. The boilerplate copy about the Alan Edgewater Failure First Fund. The information included how to contribute to the ongoing success of the scholarship fund and its vision for the future.

The evening came to a close. The event was a success. Alan was confident the that a number of matching gifts to the fund were forthcoming and the stage was set for positive press for the first two books and that third work in progress about leveraging negative space. All seemed right with the world as he drove west on 1-64 to his home in Chesterfield.    

Meanwhile, in the bar at the Hyatt Regency hotel, Coach Siena was enjoying a drink with Andy Valentine’s father and the coach from Arlington High School. “I’m sure impressed with that boy. I had no idea he could sing like that. That was friggin’ beautiful. It was quite a tribute to Nana Valentine and the Arlington Red Devil community. We are so looking forward to tracking Andy on his journey.” 

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