The Big Guy 2.0 is Launched
The PAX: Popeye, Sir Purr, Mayhem
At the corner of Firetower Road and Springdale Road stands a sign that reads “In Loving Memory of Eric Lessmeister” – “Once a Bearcat. Always a Bearcat”
In the spring of 1990 a young boy of 14 stood outside Rock Hill High School waiting for a ride home from Cross Country practice. No one in his family showed up to pick him up. Luckily, he only lived about 1 mile from the school, so he grabbed his backpack and started walking down the long drive way towards Springdale Road. Before the young 9th grader could make it to the end of the driveway, an infamous Lincoln Town Car rolled up next to him.
“Hey big guy, where you heading?” said the man leaning in the driver seat as far as the seat could go.
The boy startled and thinking “Whoa the principle of the school is talking to me. This may not be good.”
“I’m walking home sir.” the young boy squeeked out.
“Hop in I’ll take you.” said Mr. Lessmeister.
The young boy got into the passenger side seat, and buckled up. The boy didn’t say a word other than answering a few questions with yes sir or no sir. Without giving the principle any directions moments later the Lincoln Town car rolled right up to the front door to the boys house. Amazed that the principal knew exactly where he lived but also scared him that, the principal knew where he lived!!
Ask anyone who had the honor of being under the leadership of Principal Eric Lessmeister at Rock Hill High and they will tell you the same thing, Mr. Lessmeister loved students and invested in their lives. He knew who was dating who, what sport you played, where you ate lunch in the cafeteria, and who your friends were. He even would know if you wore purple to school versus wearing Bearcat Garnet, Black and Gold.
He invested in that young boy. Over the years he invited him into his home where he eventually became good friends with his children. Then 4 years later on the end of the graduation stage at Winthrop coliseum the young boy now a less young boy walked up to Mr. Lessmeister, shook his hand and the same man who gave him a ride home all those years ago said, “Congratulations Big Guy. You’re one of the good ones.” I’ll never forget it.
That young boy went on to graduate Navy bootcamp, graduate Winthrop University, and South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, but he couldn’t tell you what the people at the graduations said when he shook their hand.
He called everyone Big Guy. He knew your name, but Big Guy was the nickname for everyone. Though it has a special meaning in my heart.
Then 4 years ago, another Lessmeister said something to the 39 year old that was struggling to keep up with the PAX at a F3 workout and contemplating on even coming back out to F3.
Trying to catch his breath while running around the Cherry Park parking lot I said, “I’m sorry man, I needed to walk.”
“MAN! What are you sorry for! Do you know how many people are not out here doing this! Let’s go,” said Brad Lessmeister aka Cheeto.
Some PAX may not agree with my decision to re-launch the Big Guy on a Saturday for several reasons. We won’t get into that here, bBut F3 has changed my life, in more ways than you could ever possibly fathom. Fitness, Fellowship & Faith. BEst friends, with ‘tough love’. I’m passionate about F3 and helping more people find the joy and passion that I have for this group. Though something has been missing recently. In my humble opinion i think it’s the passion to share F3 with others, and bring those Kotters who have slipped through the cracks.
We had a semi-kotter come to the launch of the Big Guy. Mayhem. Why did he come out? A simple text message I sent inviting him to come.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I read the F3 mission statement as:
“Our mission is to plant grow and serve small men’s workout groups for men, for the invigoration of male community leadership.”
When did F3 stop at the state line? When did it stop at the Catawba River? Why should it stop east of I-77. We need to invest in men all over the county and make F3 more readily available and convenient to everyone. Not to just a certain demographic or geographic population.
“There are guys out there who need this! There are guys out there who are wondering what this life is all about.”
Eric Lessmeister had a long lasting impression on me. Not because he gave ME, that young 9th grade boy a ride home, but because he invested in my life and in the lives of people who needed to be invested in. Let’s not get stagnant. Lets keep moving F3 to meet the people out there where they are. On the Back Roads of communities, not just in the cities. What if F3 Metro stopped at the state line? Where would you be? What if F3 The Fort stopped at the river? Where would you be? What if Burgundy or Cheeto did not EH me? Where would I be? Probably still a 293 pound wad of chewed up bubble gum waiting for a heart attack.
Come to the Big Guy 2.0, invest in men who need F3 and where it leads F3 next.
Aye! Popeye OUT!