A Remarkable Story about Resilience – Jack Higgins, Australian Footballer.

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I heard several years ago that schools were emphasizing self-esteem in classrooms. Early praise, boosting morale, and encouraging kids to be creative. Not much about dealing with failure.

But they were missing something. And some time later they discovered what was missing – resilience. Life will hand you a bunch of negatives or failures, and how you deal with them, and continue to move forward, and achieve goals is called resilience.

It has been said that you are not a failure because you fail to reach a goal. You are a failure if you do not fail because this means you haven’t been trying anything new. You’ve been sitting on your hands, like a barnacle attached to a pier, and you’ve been taking no risks — just hanging on.

Australian Rules football.
Aussie football is like no other football in the world. It’s played with an oblong ball, kinda like a US football, but larger. But you cannot throw the football. You have to kick it downfield preferably but if you get tackled, you can get rid of the ball by a two-handed punch to a team-mate.

Classic overhead mark in Aussie football. Source: AFL Media.

A key part of the game, called marking, is catching the ball after it’s been kicked and before it bounces. Marking the ball is like wide receivers catching the ball in the US game. In Aussie rules, if you take a mark then you get a free kick.

I’ve heard it said that the continuous movement of the ball in Aussie Rules makes it the most entertaining game in the world.

Jack Higgins.

Jack Higgins plays for my favorite team, called Saint Kilda, so I get to see him play every weekend (it costs me $162/year to stream all the games).

Higgins was a star in his younger days, and was quickly drafted to Richmond. But he was dropped a few times, and his performance was a bit unreliable.

Then in 2019, his second year, he began to suffer headaches and blurred vision during and after games. An MRI scan revealed a brain bleed, which is very serious. Higgins spent two months in hospital while Richmond went on to win the second of three premierships.

He underwent two brain surgeries. The first operation left him unable to look at a screen. The second left him with a 25cm (10 inch) scar on the side of his head. He thought his playing days were over when the doctors pronounced he would never play again.

He says now the scar drove him to recover and play again. He did play again for Richmond before transferring to Saint Kilda in 2021 during the ending days of the pandemic. He has played 4 years in AFL total, and just received a contract extension from Saint Kilda for another 4 years. He’s thrilled about this because as a kid he and his family were over-the-top supporters for Saint Kilda. Higgins marvels at what resilience has brought to his life.


Jack Higgins, an Australian footballer. Source: AFL Media.

Higgins is a goal-sneak mostly and generally kicks a couple goals each match, and 26 for this season so far. Not long ago he kicked 5 goals which is rare.

He says his new first-year coach, Ross Lyon, a controversial figure, brings out the best in him and in the other players. Lyon had coached the Saints once before, and lost two premierships in 2010 and 2011. One game was a tie and had to be replayed.

The expectation by Saint Kilda to get in another grand final soon is rampant among fans, and to be honest, all the Saints followers. The team is standing fifth on the ladder, so Saint Kilda are definitely in the hunt this year.

How brain surgery affected Higgin’s life.
I was in ICU for ages. I remember being in agony… I was at that stage where I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep and was vomiting because I was in that much pain. My mental health wasn’t good at the time. I was doing erratic things and just being a dickhead to everyone that was close to me,” Higgins said.

Two horrific brain surgeries and two months in hospital has to affect one’s outlook on life.
“Coming out the other end, I realised football is an important part of my life. …. It gave me a good perspective. Footy is important, but let’s be honest, it’s not that important. It really taught me about a lot of things outside of football and how important life is. Health is wealth.”

“I love playing under Ross. I can’t say good enough words about him. He gets the best out of me and he gets the best out of all the people. He has got some really high standards that make every player better.

“I know if you play your cards right in life and you work hard enough – that goes for study, for being a doctor, for being an AFL footballer or a cricketer – it may not always pay off but it is going to give you the best chance to succeed.

What can we learn from Jack Higgin’s story:
1. His passion for football kept him going through illness. It’s good to know what your passions are.
2. He refused to accept that he’d failed in football.
3. Keep life in balance. Don’t be totally tunnel-visioned.
4. Play your cards right and work hard. Never give up, if it’s a good cause.
5. If you set a goal, providence (God) will work in your favor – things will pop up in unlikely places and unexpected people will reach out — to assist you in your goal. Ross Lyon, surprisingly, showed up in Jack Higgin’s football life.

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Brief synopsis of FracMan:
• Fracking for oil is both dangerous and controversial. Cautious and talented Kelly finds conflict working with Jordan, the FracMan, an older engineer who cuts corners.
• Their unlikely attraction brings challenges as they wrestle with love, risk, and tragedy in the oilfield.
• Explore the science of fracking and earthquakes while contemplating love, loss, and faith that goes deeper than it all.

Scripture from the Tulsa World:
From his bold declaration that he would “never deny Christ” … to his bitter denunciation, “I don’t know the man!” The good news is that Peter was forgiven and restored by Jesus. And once Peter had been restored, he went and preached a sermon to the very people who had crucified Jesus. And 3,000 people were saved!
Peter failed the Lord miserably, but he “failed forward.”
Peter failed … but he did not allow his failure to destroy his future or define his life. How did he do that? We can learn a lesson from Peter that will help us in our own times of failure? Failure is a reality of life.
If you are alive and living for the Lord, you will fail along the way. And failure hurts, we don’t like it. But the truth is that failure does not need to be final.

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