robhastings

Unsung Heroes - Dyke Belcher

Posted by Rob on July 23rd, 2012 at 9:47am

This post is in a series on my blog entitled "Unsung Heroes." In case you haven't read it before, here is why I think these blog posts are important:

When my grandfather passed away in December 2010, I had a strong regret. I wrote a eulogy for my grandfather which I delivered at his funeral, but as I wrote about all of the things he meant to me and others, I regretted not telling him these things directly before he passed away. I promised myself I didn't want that to happen again.

My blog is about almost anything, but I also want to periodically take the time to write about people to which I need to say "thank you." Sure, I've personally thanked many people for the countless things they have done for me, but there are some things that deserve to be publicly highlighted in black and white. That's what these posts are about - the unsung heroes in my life, like my grandfather, who have made me the man I am today.


I grew up loving the water, and I still do to this day. I was always at the local community pool during the summer, I was on the swim team, and I even swam competitively in high school and college. When my parents moved to a house on the local river, there wasn't a single day of summer that I wasn't out swimming, fishing, or boating. I loved the water and always wanted to be in it. But it wasn't always that way.

When I was six years old, my parents signed me up for the swim team. I remember my first swim meet like it was yesterday. I was nervous and I even remember pleading with my mother not to make me go. When it was my turn to race, I hesitantly stepped on the starting block. My coach, Dyke Belcher, looked on from the side of the pool.

Dyke was one of my father's former students, and I always remember my father saying he was a tremendous athlete. Likewise, Dyke always seemed to be in a good mood, and even at a young age, I could tell that people enjoyed and liked to be around Dyke Belcher.

"Bang!" The starting gun of the race fired. I was petrified to jump in the pool and swim the short 25-yards to the other end. I stood there as I saw Dyke in my peripheral vision run from his coaching spot on the side of the pool to my starting block. Suddenly, I felt a massive hand shove me off the starting block and in the pool. I looked back as I entered the water, and Dyke yelled, "Swim!"

I swam as I hard as I could to the other end of the pool, mostly out of fear. Despite my delayed start, I narrowly missed a first place finish. As I pulled myself out of the pool, Dyke was there to meet me. He squatted down, placed his hands on my shoulders, and said words I'll never forget and for which I will be forever grateful.

"You can't win the races you don't start Robert."

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