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  • Writer's pictureJeff Smith

I Need to do more... More Than a Game.

At a very early age Tim Fanning understood that quitting was not an option. Tim’s story begins 43 years ago when he was born to a single mother near Columbus, GA. His mother was an Army nurse, and at the time single mothers were not allowed to serve. She had a choice to make; give up her child or her career. Her choice would prove to impact thousands of lives in a way I’m sure she didn’t anticipate.

Being a single mother has a number of challenges without the challenges associated with discharged from the military. Tim and his mother were forced to rely on public assistance and the free programs that were offered by the Boy’s Club at the time. Tim recalls never paying for Little League registrations or purchasing equipment for sports. I bring this up not to embarrass Tim and his mother, but to explain how the generosity of others and a determined mother have changed the world in a positive way.

As Tim was growing up it quickly became obvious that he was a very skilled athlete. I am a huge supporter or organized sports, and I am about to explain one of the main reasons. Growing up without a father he relied on the fatherly influences of his coaches. These men worked with Tim to teach him discipline, motivation, work ethic and team building skills. These skills are crucial for a young man growing up. Tim recalls a few of his former coaches and professional mentors. He credits them with his successful coaching career and accomplishments. I was fortunate to know some of the same men, who have had similar impacts in my life.

Starting with Little League and free programs at the Boys Club, Tim went on to play Division I baseball at Marshall. The connections as a result of attending this university would again, change the world. After college Tim knew coaching was going to be his passion and career. One major factor was his passion to give to others what so many had given to him. He understood first-hand how much he could impact the kids in his local community. One of these athletes would follow in his footsteps to Marshall, where Tim would be introduced to Marshall Murray. Tim could tell this young man was passionate about giving back. After college Murray went back to California where he founded the Walnut Creek “Crawdads”, a college level travel baseball team that focused on giving back to the community. He referred to this non-profit as “More than a Game.

Tim stayed in contact with Marshall and took a particular interest in MTAG, even implementing community service in his own coaching philosophy. As Tim was building a successful baseball program at Glenwood School he would learn several valuable lessons. Perhaps the most impactful lesson came from a failure. Baseball is a passion of his because it is laced with failures, which teaches people how to handle success. This came to a harsh reality for the coach as his team failed to reach the playoffs after winning a state championship in 2007. Tim had failed to handle success. He decided this was unacceptable and evaluated his coaching philosophy. He realized he had strayed from his principles and concentrated on returning to what had made him successful. The result, Three consecutive state championships. With this success it would have been easy to simply maintain, but not for Tim. He felt a strong calling to do more. He remembered Marshall, and decided he could do more… “More than a Game.”

He decided to answer the call and formed a partnership with Murray, what has happened over the last few years has been nothing short of inspiring and amazing. Tim is extremely grateful to his mother, and her selfless sacrifices to ensure he was taken care of. He also understands the value of helping others. Working with Murray’s idea of giving back through baseball Fanning introduced a vision to reach children on an international level.

In 2012, MTAG took its first trip to a small village in Panama. Tim and a handful of volunteers followed their faith and used baseball as their vehicle. Hundreds of kids from all over the village showed up to learn the game of baseball and have their lives positively impacted. More than a Game’s first trip was a success. This non-profit is not just a traveling baseball clinic; it is focused on community service. These young men have built baseball fields, painted churches, established community vegetable gardens, small construction projects and most importantly demonstrate the act of selfless giving. The impacts are felt on both sides, and have created Tim’s true passion. He wants to create servants, who raise servants. He asked me, “Can you imagine the results when servants raise their children to be servants as well?” The impact on the global community will be amazing.

More than a Game has now reached communities in Panama, Dominican Republic, Africa, Colombia, and local communities around the United States. There are more than 100 volunteers and they have directly impacted thousands of children, adults, and families around the world.

MTAG is more than baseball, it is about making a better world. It is about making servants, and future leaders who will pass along compassion for the human race. MTAG a game doesn’t care about race, ethnicity, or gender. They care about people!

I walked away from my time with Coach Fanning inspired and humbled. What if we all asked ourselves if we could do more? What would be the result? It reminded me that every child deserves a shot at life, they deserve compassion and support. A small child on public assistance and free programs through his local Boy’s Club has changed the world. To those men and women who have focused on others and reached Tim, thank you.

Ask yourself What more can you do?

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