BETWEEN THE LINES: Colin Klein shines in a dark world

Youth today have too few examples to follow on how to live their lives. They are deluged daily by the flaws of politicians, CEOs, entertainers and sports heroes who live less-than-stellar lives. Multiple-marriage partners, sexual affairs, children born out of wedlock, substance abuse and disgraceful conduct make headlines in the news.

While driving to work recently, I heard an interview sports radio talk-show host Jim Rome conducted with Colin Klein, the Kansas State quarterback who is a leading candidate for college football’s Heisman Trophy. The Colorado native sounded humble and grateful and made it clear he was a born-again Christian.

The Heisman hopeful credited his success to his parents and coaches, who shaped his values. His father was one of his coaches, teaching him the importance of becoming a better athlete and person every day of his life.

Klein recounted a story of bicycling with his mother when he was about 4 years old. The two had ridden a little farther than they intended, and his mother kept reminding him to just keep peddling. The athlete used this story to illustrate that even his mother at an early age had an influence in molding his determination.

The quarterback got married this summer to Shalin Spani, a Kansas State basketball player he met in the fall of 2011. Their first date was Jan. 30, and they became engaged 18 days later.  Their first kiss occurred at their wedding ceremony. The couple just felt from the onset that God had his hand in their relationship.

The gifted athlete from Loveland, Colo., committed to Kansas State, and to its head coach Bill Snyder, on his first visit to Manhattan, Kan., a town nicknamed the Little Apple. The future star immediately felt it was the right place for him to be.

I have long been an admirer of coach Snyder. His dedication to football fundamentals is unsurpassed. His teams consistently commit the fewest penalties and turnovers in college football. On his arrival at Kansas State, Klein and his teammates were given a laminated card with 16 goals.

At the top of the list was a request for each player to improve as a football player and a human being every day. Next was that the team should strive to get better each day as well. The 73-year-old Snyder is serving his second tenure as head coach of Kansas State. He returned from retirement when the team faltered in his absence. The coach is a no-nonsense, low-key leader who undoubtedly has the respect and admiration of his players.

My father, a Kansas State graduate, died in 1998, and sadly missed seeing his alma mater rise in prominence. They are currently ranked No. 2 in the latest BCS standings. I know he must be looking down from heaven with a big grin on his face. He would be so proud of his school.

Our children and grandchildren need more examples such as Klein and Snyder instead of the "me-first" egos whose actions glaringly demonstrate what is wrong with America.

Laughlin is a Christian Libertarian. He is an economist, teacher, father, husband and most recently a grandfather. He has written a weekly column for The Tribune for 15 years. He and his wife Gina reside in Meadowlakes. To contact him, email ablaughlin@nctv.com. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company.

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