This Guy, Ryan Wininger and I met at Alma College in 1989, my senior year, his freshman year. We had a new coach and he had recruited the fab 5 of Alma College basketball. The future. This kid was 6'5 long, build for ball, big smile and beautiful girlfriend and brought a lot of fear in the current players cause he and the other 4 came to make a name for Alma College Basketball.
Ryan and I became very close and after the school year I spent the summer in Traverse City Michigan with my mom, brother and sisters. It was a time to play a lot of ball and hang out. Free from school, I did have a small job at a local gym and also helped the YMCA get sponsors for their 1st annual 3 on 3 basketball tournament. That was my 1st experience of being a "sales" person and should have realized that was not my om. Nice guy but couldn't get the sale. So it was easier to hang out and play ball, hoops or sand vollyball than go out and face the world of NO's. Bad attitude towards that. Ryan and I played a lot of hoops, had a great 3 on 3 full court tourney in his home town and we were all given wrist bands so we knew who was on the team. I can't remember if we won or not but man it was competitive with the teams, bragging rights. I want to say we either won in the finals or lost.
Fast forward to end of the summer, I was heading off to start a job in Rhode Island working for Home Depot. Ryan and I talked on the phone before I left, he wished me luck. He informed me he was not going to be returning to Alma College to play ball, so I said where you going, MSU;) He said, "No", "I will be staying home and getting my pilot's license. I want to be a pilot and figured I may as well start now cause College my passion, flying is!" I was like that is so great, man I can hear you now, "Attention passengers, this is your Captain speaking, please sit back and enjoy your flight" we both laughed and said good-bye...I had no idea this would be the last words we ever spoke to each other.
When I arrived in Rhode Island my good friend Mike has things all lined up for me to go interview and start working. The day after my interview I had a call from a friend who informed me that Ryan had been killed in a plane accident. I was now again in shock and disbelief that this could happen to Ryan, he was bigger than life, no way he goes this young. My heart was broken.
I made the call to go home and not pursue the job. I'd figure it out when I got back to Michigan. So I went, the funeral to say the least was filled with emotions. When I approached the casket, which did not have his body shown because the remains were, well not viewable. But one thing that was in the viewing on top was a green hat. When I was hugging his family his dad said man he loved playing ball with you. His dad said you know why the green hat is there? I said no. He said you had given him a MSU hat back in school and that was his favorite thing to wear because it came from you. And his dad said, he was happy and was doing what he wanted to do, he was living his purpose. Man how true, it will never fill that hole I will always have for him not being here. However, he and I still see each other on occasion and he like the other's just smile and let's me know he is good. And is playing ball with Ian and John, he let's me know they have a wrist band for me to join the team. Until then my brother, live your purpose and don't be scared. Get on the horse man! I see you speaking for the ones who are not heard.
This is why he is my Horse. He know's I use to lean on him when the game got tight. And he lived his PURPOSE.