It’s a strange love—something that takes hold of you when you spend time on “The Palouse.” My license plate holder reads, “I Bleed Crimson.” It reflects a passion that is hard to describe.
You have to be resilient to be a Cougar. To be a Cougar is to know what it means to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. You know how to celebrate and cherish victories because you are not overwhelmed with too many to count.
Cougars are are easy to identify. Wear the iconic logo of Washington State University anywhere in the world and you are likely to be greeted by someone calling out “Go Cougs.”
There is a deep sense of pride that goes along with being a Coug for most Cougars. Pride is good but the endearing and admirable trait may be toughness—resiliency and a yearning to create and sustain impact.
Erik Coleman is a Cougar. A scholarship to play football at Washington State was his ticket to opportunity after growing up in a broken household and an environment of alcohol, drugs and violence. An environment and childhood filled with tremendous resistance that too commonly claim all who pass that way as a victim.
“We can look backwards for reference but progress towards the future is always based in what we are doing today.”
Erik’s pride, toughness and resilience was at the heart of a very special team in Cougar football history. He helped lead the Cougars to their last Rose Bowl appearance in 2003 and a win in the 2003 Holiday Bowl over the fifth ranked Texas Longhorns. Erik’s collegiate success opened the door play in the N.F.L. for nine years.
Erik, now a former professional athlete and a far removed from the troubles and resistance of his youth, has started a new race—leading kids to a better future. Erik’s most recent work is with ‘My Brothers Keeper,’ a non-profit organization that helps young men in difficult situations keep their live on track. Coleman will go to different community centers, talk to those there and be the father or brother figure that may not be prominent in that kid’s life.
Erik Coleman is running for impact—embracing his unique place in the world to change lives. Erik says he wants what he accomplished on the football field to “to play second fiddle to what he accomplishes in life.”
Every day we are presented with opportunities for impact. Opportunities to inspire hearts, unlock possibilities and change the lives of people who intersect our path. Impact does not require a grand stage. It simply requires us to look beyond our routine and say yes.
We become the best version of who were created to be when we pour our hearts and soul into creating positive impact in the lives of people who need our love and care.
Yes my license plate holder reads “I Bleed Crimson.” I don’t know Erik Coleman personally. But I am quite certain he bleeds crimson which means he understands the power of pride and passion—thanks Erik.
Maybe I need to change my license plate holder to read “I Race for Impact!” Life changes and becomes richer when we race for impact. Who is going to intersect your path today that could be inspired, influenced and motivated by how you respond?