On a hot August evening in Mesa, Arizona, a player wearing jersey #24 runs onto the football field. He is the starting middle linebacker for the Mesa Community College Thunderbirds. Underneath the pads and uniform, however, there is something different about this player; something that the crowd in the stands doesn’t realize. #24 is about to live his lifelong dream.
Lincoln Proctor is from St. John’s, Arizona, a small town near the New Mexico border. He played football in high school and then left the country to serve a 2-year mission for his church in Ecuador.
Upon his return, he worked for a company building custom iron fences. In 2006, he started his own business in the iron fence industry. As the economy turned, so did the business and he eventually closed up shop. He spent some time in different jobs and eventually decided to go back to school. He enrolled at Mesa Community College. Soon after enrolling, he found out there would be open try-outs for the football team. He got excited. When he was young he had dreamed of playing college football. The he remembered something; he was 32 years old! He has a young family at home. There is no way a 32-year old man could go out and compete with young athletes in their prime. Or could he? Lincoln decided to take chance at living his dream.
It wasn’t easy. He was competing with 80 other kids for just a few open spots on the team. “What the heck am I doing?” he asked himself. Many of the other players were stronger and faster but he was determined to make up for it in hard work and maximum effort. He would show the coaches that he wanted this more than anybody else.
Thirty minutes before the try-out started he realized that he needed a physical release from a doctor to be able to play. In a panic, he ran across the street to an urgent care who just happened to offer physicals. There was a long line, so he went around asking if anyone would trade numbers with him. When he was finally able to see the doctor, they wouldn’t sign his physical because the running and anxiety had pushed his blood pressure through the roof. After some tense moments, his blood pressure came down. He got his physical release, ran back across the street, and played his heart out. When try-outs were over, the coach pulled him aside and told him he had made the team.
Lincoln wasn’t done yet. With hard work and desire he earned the starting role as middle linebacker. He kept working. The program awarded him a football scholarship. He kept working. The coaches named him as a defensive captain. He’s still working. Lincoln is 12 years older than the average player on the team. His nicknames among the players are “Grandpa” or “Father Time”. He is still working.
On August 13th, 2011, while the crowd came to watch the Thunderbirds play, a small group was cheering wildly for a man who was living his dream.
When you ask him how it is going, a smile crosses his lips as he says, “I’m having the time of my life! It should be illegal to have this much fun!”
Is Lincoln Proctor super-human? No. Is he more capable than everyone else? No. He is a man who had a dream. Even when conventional wisdom would say that his window of opportunity had closed, he took a chance. He got out on the field and put in the effort. It is hard and painful work but he is having the time of his life. He’s not done. He’s hoping to transfer and play for a major university. He is living the dream.
Lincoln is part of a new movement of people who are fed up with living life on auto-pilot. The people in this movement are not the incredibly talented or ambitious. They are your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. They are the average, everyday people around you. There is one difference though. They are starting to realize that they are not average. They are rediscovering the dreams they once had. They are learning that working towards their true dreams will bring them happiness, confidence and fulfillment. They are experiencing the miracle.
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