by Simon W. Bouie
Arts & Entertainment Editor
“For what is a man, what has he got, if not himself, then he has not.” The anthem of the late Frank Sinatra is perhaps a piece of lyrical prose that describes one’s need to remain true to thine own self.
This phrase is perhaps an eloquent way to express the need that constantly challenges every human. The need do what one feels in their heart and soul to be best for them. To not sacrifice one’s own integrity, character, soul or passion to appease others or to not rock the boat.
The existence of such people is often controversial and in some cases unpopular. But looking at history, people who change the world are the ones who are indeed true to themselves. They are the ones who can live with the fact that everyone does not like them. You will find no apathy among these individuals.
The University of La Verne has been the home to such a person for the last three years. Meet Sean Douglas of Lake Forest, Illinois, the 22-year-old co-captain of the national champion volleyball team, and a movement and sports science major.
Douglas first came to La Verne after attending Montana State University in his freshman year. At the end of that season, the volleyball program was cut. Lucky for La Verne.
This dear fabled spot was also fortunate that former volleyball head coach Don Flora had already recruited Douglas before he decided to go to Montana.
The program cancellation was not the first difficult situation that Douglas had to deal within volleyball.
“In my freshman year of high school, I was cut from the team,” he said. However, after the father of another boy who was cut raised some sand, the coach relented and allowed the young lads to return to the team.
Although they were on the team, both young men were consequently exiled to the bench. Yet eight years later one has to wonder just whom exactly got the last laugh?
Douglas has a simple philosophy by which he lives his life, “Be yourself, I won’t change myself for other people.”
On the thing that drives him he has a simple retort, “I’m a perfectionist. If I enjoy doing something I’ll work hard to make sure that it is done right.”
On what defines him, “What you see is what you get. If I don’t like you, I’ll tell you and I wont change the way that I am.”
Starting to get the point? This guy is his own man and does not care what people like.
But with this thick exterior, one might expect the person that Sean Douglas is to be some monster, a demon that has a little more hell to raise. Idi Amin’s long lost chef?
Not quite, “Sean is a lamb in wolf’s clothing. As strong as he is physically, he is really a gentle person. Inside he is very caring. He is kind hearted and a team individual,” said Douglas’ head coach Jack Coberly.
Coberly cannot be talking about the same guy who said, “I don’t want to act like other people want me to act.”
Maybe this beast does indeed have some beauty.
“My mom has inspired my life more than anyone else. She raised our family basically by herself and I learned hard work from her. She is the hardest working person that I know.”
Indeed it was talk of dear mother, Lisa Lahmann, that softens the edge in the Douglas’ face and increases the twinkle in his eye. Perhaps Coberly was right about the sheep in wolves clothing thing.
“Sean probably, more than anything, has the ability to have great strength of character. He has given the team a lot of leadership and a lot of stability and he is also a damn good volleyball player,” said Coberly.
Is this the same guy who seemed to pick up “My Way” where Sinatra left off?
“You always look to seniors to lead by example and motivate the team. This year Sean did that,” said Coberly.
“Leadership roles fit Sean well. As co-captain he had to evaluate his actions and reactions to events. I am extremely proud of him because so many times people let the mental side of life dictate their actions. This year he over came that. At the championships, he played the most complete match that I have ever seen him play. He was truly a rock.”
Was winning the ring as sweet as the sip of an exceptionally good champagne?
“It was the perfect ending to my time here. I have gotten a lot of seconds in my life, it was nice to get a first,” said Douglas.
So what does the future hold for the outer iron, inner pillow Douglas? “I plan to go to grad school for athletic training. I eventually want to be an athletic trainer. I’m not sure if at the high school or college level. A dream would be to be a pro trainer.”
So who is Sean Douglas? Confusion runs rampant because of the contradictions within the subject. Is he the guy who does not give a damn about what others think or feel? Or is he the lamb in wolf’s clothing that his coach described?
Perhaps the latter of the two is the most accurate. Why? Everyone seems to like Sean Douglas.
So perhaps there is never a need to apologize for whom he is. He appears to be a talented, smart, mature leader who has not only the respect of his coach and teammates, but also from those who know him.
If there is some confusion about the exterior, make no mistakes about the interior in particular the cerebral where Douglas sums himself up best.
“I believe in being yourself and not acting like others want you to act. Being true to yourself is the key,” he said.
Indeed it would appear that Douglas is unapologetically his own man. He is true to thine own self.
Lets let Sinatra finish this one since he started it. “The record shows, I took the blows and did it (big finish) MY WAY!”