October 2018 TeamMats of the Month: Six Years and Eighteen Inches of Growth
Abel first learned about TeamMates during third grade from LPS’s Community News. He then marched into the McPhee Elementary office and nominated himself for the program. Before the first meeting, however, Abel had doubts. “How would I relate to this big, scary man?” he wondered. His worries subsided after meeting his mentor Tim, and they discovered common interests: playing the saxophone, the outdoors, and a competitive spirit.
“I’m so glad I got to know him,” Abel says. “He’s so understanding, and I know I can count on him.”
Tim and Abel continued to steadily deepen their friendship. “We didn’t rush the relationship,” says Tim, “but allowed it to evolve naturally.” After several years of mentoring at McPhee, Tim followed Abel to Park Middle School, then on to Southwest High School where he is now a sophomore. Growth has been a theme in their relationship. From the start, Tim realized Abel’s leadership and social competency, and over the years, he’s grown eighteen inches in height and even more in self-assurance. “Abel has developed a quiet confidence that guides the direction he wants to go,” Tim says. He also praises his mentee for being “a good friend and having solid morals.”
At one point, Abel was struggling with his studies. He credits Tim with helping him stay on top of his school work because Tim found clever ways to make learning enjoyable. During their meetings, the two frequently played catch, so Tim suggested that with each throw they take turns naming all the states in the nation. The contest was so successful that they moved on to capitals, then South American countries, and then around the world. Learning became fun, and the two realized a common sense of humor.
Throughout their journey, there have been surprises. Both Tim and Abel were amazed to discover the strong bond each shares with his mother and greatest role model. During the course of their relationship, each has encountered unexpected abilities in the other. Tim has been astounded at Abel’s success in theater, landing lead roles in productions at the Lincoln Community Playhouse and the Haymarket Theater. One of Tim’s favorite moments occurred when sixth-grade Abel starred in the play Never Ending Story. Abel has also been surprised by his mentor. “Even though Tim loves to win,” Abel says, “I noticed that when he had the advantage in a game, he would purposefully guide me in order to help me to do better.” Talk about a win-win!
This year, Abel’s growth has taken another direction. He decided to take a break from theater to focus on academics and student council. Tim’s support has not wavered through these changes. His ability to stand by Abel stems from wisdom modeled by a mentor who helped Tim develop problem-solving skills and commitment to community service, both of which serve him as a mentor today.
“I expect our relationship will morph more toward a peer friendship as Abel grows older,” Tim says, and Abel concurs.
“We’ve come too far in our relationship to fall away. We’re always interested in the other,” Abel says.
Six years of bonding makes an adult friendship inevitable and speaks to the power of mentoring.