This past Saturday, family and friends gathered in Kelowna, B.C. to celebrate the life of my father, John Rauser. During the event, my brother Rick shared three things he learned from dad. Rick did an excellent job, and I wanted to share one of the things he learned below. So, consider this a guest-post from my brother. And to hear more from Rick Rauser, you can visit his YouTube channel.
My dad and I watched a great deal of professional tennis in the 1980s and on this specific occasion I was watching an early match of the 1987 U.S. Open. In the early rounds of these major tournaments the draw was designed so that high-ranking players would match up with low-ranking players. I was watching a first-round match between tennis superstar Boris Becker and another player, a low-ranked player who I had never heard of before. My dad came in and said, “Who’s playing?” I replied, “It’s Boris Becker against some no-name guy.”
My dad said, “Don’t call him a no-name. He has a name.”
I can’t tell you the impact these two simple sentences made on me, especially the way dad spoke them, as if it was one of the most urgent and important things I could possibly learn. His tone told me, “Listen to this. This is important.” I can’t get those words out of my head. I hear my dad speaking these words any time I interact with a person occupying a role that our society describes as anonymous: grocery store clerks, hotel maids, gas station attendants. I used to be a teacher, and I always remembered those words when I would think about the quiet, shy students who sat alone at the back of the room. I always hear my dad saying, “Don’t call him a no-name. He has a name. Everyone has a name.”
By the way, because of my dad’s observation, to this day I still remember the name of Boris Becker’s opponent that day. His name was Tim Wilkison. He lost that match against Becker, and although in his career he never reached the highest ranks of professional tennis, he did go on to win a total of six ATP tournaments and was once ranked as high as number twenty-three in the world. Today Tim Wilkison is 59 years old and he is a highly-respected instructor and director of scouting at the Charlotte International Tennis Academy in North Carolina. He is happily married and has a son who plays NCAA tennis at the University of North Carolina.
Everyone has a name.