December 15, 2009

Questioning the Unspoken Rule…

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:51 pm by Scott Paschal

ana aussie lagos kids

David and Ana, ICTA tennis academy students, competing in 2009 ITF Pro tournament in Lagos, Nigeria.

It’s like an unspoken rule.

Like a natural order of things most simply abide by and don’t think to question.

I see it constantly. And, honestly, it’s driving me crazy.

I’m talking “religion” here…but, let me put it in tennis terms to see how well you rally.

Ever watch junior tennis players practice?

Listen up, here, I’ve been at this for a while…so, lean in and get comfortable.

Picture this… players are on the tennis court, their tennis coach or mom/dad in the back corner of the tennis court observing. Players hitting ball after ball after ball developing their skills.

Ever see tennis players train?

I have. For a long time. Longer than some of you have been alive. And probably at least 1/2 the lives of the rest of you.

David (Australia) and his Nigerian opponent. I've coached David full time for 2+ years! An amazing young man.

It’s bothering me.. this unspoken rule.

Look over here for a minute…

A kid pics up a racket as a brand new beginner. Mom or Dad shows little junior how to hit the ball. Or maybe the kid just learns on her own.

Junior begins hitting the ball. Junior gets better. Junior begins hitting with other juniors.  Time passes. Junior gets better.

You see this, right?


Know what I see?

I see junior begin each tennis workout by hitting forehands to the other junior’s forehand. And they both keep hitting forehands to each other constantly until someone messes up…at which time the other person is forced to hit a rare backhand.

I then see a couple of panicky backhands until they move the ball back to their forehand side.

They rip the ball back and forth… forehand to forehand like a couple of squirrels gathering nuts for the winter.  Momma and Daddy and Coach are so proud of how well junior is hitting the ball and improving!

David practicing w pro player in Nigeria. Great opportunities to improve in tennis and share faith w players worldwide!

Time passes….

Then, tournament time! Time to show the world how junior has improved. Time to gain self esteem and recognition for all…

Junior walks onto the court to play his match..nervous and excited, yet ready to rip his forehand like he does in practice!

But, juniors opponent decides to hit to junior’s backhand.

Junior loses points, games, and ultimately the whole tennis match in a fit of thrown rackets, cussing, screaming, arguing line calls, bathroom breaks…. Momma and Daddy and Coach simply can’t believe that junior could have such a poor attitude, and play so “different” in matches.

No one really knows what went wrong.

Momma and Daddy are embarrassed by junior’s poor behavior and poor play….

You can see it now, right.  The unspoken rule?  From day one the unspoken rule dominated. Not only dominated…nurtured and guided… and ultimately destroyed.

Makes me cringe. I see it ALL the time.

Ana, Hiro, Aussie in shuttle bus to host home in Nigeria. I have coached Hiro fulltime for 2+ years! Great gal!

You followed my tennis story pretty well, right?

Ok, put your feet up and get comfy while I make my point and wrap this up…

People are born into religions worldwide.

Momma and Daddy watching  junior “hitting forehands” of religious faith… following whatever god dominates the region…

Blindly believing because they’ve never had eyes of their own, blindly living because they’ve been allowed to follow what makes family happy, blindly dying without knowing that from day one they had already lost….

Makes me cringe. I see it ALL the time.

Let me ask you something…

If you were born in France to French parents what language would you grow up speaking? French, right?

Ok, what if you were born in Italy to Italian parents? You would most likely learn to speak Italian from birth, right?

Anastasia Kharchenko reaches pro players w her faith. I've coached Ana for 3+ years now. Ana has a career high singles ranking of WTA #598...

What about maybe someplace in the Middle East like Iran?

You’d speak Farci.

From birth Mom and Dad would speak to you in their native language and guess what you learn…Farci.


Let’s talk religion, junior.

If you were born in Utah and Momma and Daddy were Mormon..ummm.. what religion would you be brainwashed from birth to follow? Sure, Mormonism.

You would believe “with all your heart” in Mormonism.

Let’s say you were born in Iraq and Momma and Daddy were Muslim. Yep, you’d be brainwashed from birth to follow Islamic teachings.

You’re seeing it, right?

India..Hindu.  China..Buddha.  You get the point. Basically brainwashed from birth from parents who were brainwashed from birth.

Ana and Aussie having lunch with an African tennis player. Many great opportunities exist for ICTA missionaries to share their faith at pro tournaments!

Ok, my turn…

I am a follower of Jesus.

No, Jesus doesn’t have Twitter.  😉

What I’m saying is that I’ve made a decision to accept Jesus as Lord over my life.

An un-brainwashed decision.

I didn’t blindly make the choice.

Honestly, you could say I angrily made the choice. My Dad had committed suicide in my car when we were supposed to be celebrating my 17th birthday. My “Christian” Dad.

Years of confusion came into my life, then years of rage. Internal rage.  Then, years of depression.  I often didn’t even want to live. Really, I shouldn’t still be here.

To say I felt unwanted and useless would be a drastic understatement. And I didn’t want to hear about God. Where was this “God” when my Dad needed him?

Time passed and in my journey into manhood…I discovered God is real, and my Dad wasn’t abandoned by Him. My Dad’s sin led to his death.

I discovered God is real by trying to prove He wasn’t. I couldn’t and my life began to change. Still is changing.

Just as I question parents, players, and coaches as to why they mainly hit forehands in tennis practices…and I explain the deep need to hit backhands, too…

…I’d like to ask you to question your religious faith.

Ask yourself why you believe what you believe.

To truly improve in tennis means you will have to train aspects of your game that you generally don’t like to train…maybe it’s your backhand, or your fitness, or whatever.

And to reach a world class level of play…you will have to push way beyond normal and discover how to master a truly difficult side of yourself.

Same with your faith. You need to discover who you are. Not who Mom and Dad are, but you.

To reach Jesus you simply need to call on Him…yet, for some, this will require you to push way beyond normal and to discover how to master a truly difficult part of your being.

John 3:16.. Romans 10:9.

Read the Bible. Start with the New Testament…and call or write me if you have any questions…

The people in charge of “growing” tennis want you to think tennis is “easy” to learn. Ok, maybe at the absolute most basic level I can see their point.

But, honestly, nothing about tennis past “baby steps”  is easy. To me, tennis is the most amazing sport in the world. The levels and depth of skill one can attain with hard work and dedication is fantastic!

And that is how I tell it. If you want to play the game, I will tell you how difficult it is to master and I will carefully explain the steps required to reach your goals. You won’t hear “fluff” from me.

ICTA President, Scott Paschal, in St Augustine, Florida

Same with Jesus. I will tell it to you like it is.

Question your faith, Christian or not.

You don’t want to get to the match and discover you didn’t prepare to win.

The unspoken religious rule in your life..the one that dominates your family… question it!

God bless,

Coach Scotty

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association, President