College sports have taken a beating in the last few years. Recruiting scandals, player payoffs, and slimy coaches have smeared what has always been perceived as the last bastion of integrity before the professional storm.
With that context, it gives me great pride to present this week’s Mindset Moment.
Kevin Jordan was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 19th round of this past baseball draft, but elected instead to play for Wake Forest. In the interim, he had extreme difficulty battling the flu, which lead to the discovery that one of his kidneys was operating at 15-20%. He was diagnosed with ANCA vasculitis, a type of autoimmune swelling disorder caused by abnormal antibodies, and went on dialysis three days per week.
During this time, his relatives were all tested for kidney donation, but no one matched. Then, his coach at Wake Forest, Tom Walter, stepped forward to be tested and proved a match. This week, Walter gave a kidney to his freshman player. Not because he needed him on the field or he has a chance to profit from Jordan’s survival, but because it is the right thing to do.
"I think that’s the first goal, that Kevin can just have a normal life," said Coach Walter. "Forget the baseball part of it for now. If he gets back on the field, that’s going to be the best story of all."
Maybe I’ll get a chance to talk with Coach Walter about his actions and the mindset that led to them, but in the meantime…
I’m beating, like so many other coaches of amateur athletes, Walter’s primary purpose in life is to shape young people and pour into them. The fact that he does it through a sport he loves is no accident either. His vision of a life in baseball led him to coaching and his passion to see others succeed and thrive made his decision to give a kidney just an extension of the rest of his life.
His awareness to recognize an opportunity is heightened by a keen sense of gratitude and his bias for action. Finally, the ability to forgive forward (aka, granting immunity) made it possible for him to enter a risky situation without debilitating anxiety. Tom Walter gave us a picture perfect example of how to make a decision and I applaud his consistent courage and willingness to give.
Good luck Kevin and way to go Tom!