Inside Pitch Magazine, November/December 2021

Ground Rules: Serve to Lead 2

by Tim Fanning, Glenwood School (AL) head coach
Tim Fanning in white uniform has a meeting at the pitchers mound with his pitcher and catcherI think more often than not when we search for answers to life’s little mysteries, we are looking in the wrong places. We seek insight from famous people, television shows or radio personalities. Don’t get me wrong, there are inspirational bursts from all of these places. People rise from poverty, personal tragedy or disabilities to achieve great success and all of a sudden their stardom makes us pay attention. Were they not the same people before they were famous? My point is that we are surrounded by these people every day and for some reason we don’t see them.

The fact of the matter is just about everything that I have built my life on was so graciously given to me by people you’ve never heard of and I would venture to say you never will. We are so consumed with what we are fed on social and main stream media we fail to realize we are walking in fields of gold every day surrounded by nuggets of life that can sustain you for all your days. All you have to do is pay attention and the blueprint is there to follow. What am I taking about? I am talking about “servants”! They will teach you all you need to know and there will be plenty leftover to teach others.

Sometimes these people are hard to see because they don’t want to be seen. They operate behind the scenes with no fanfare or any desire to be recognized. A single mother that works three jobs and never buys anything for herself. A little league coach that buys cleats and a glove for one of his players without anyone knowing. A co-worker that stops to ask you about your family when he/she is up against a project deadline at work. A bus driver that greets every kid with a smile regardless of what’s going on in his/her life. A coach that stays after practice to talk to one of his/her players about life despite his wife/husband and children waiting at home. The socially awkward kid that finds the courage to tell the starting quarterback he really enjoyed watching him play on Friday night. Of course, the soldier that straps his boots on every day with no hesitation and provides the very freedom for us that we many times take for granted.

The list of examples could go on forever but I think you get the point. All these people serve others and in return they expect nothing! People seem to be starving for inspiration and all they have to do is look around. No it’s not sexy but it’s the very foundation for life that has meaning. Serving others plants seeds in countless lives and when watered often produce leaders without us even knowing.  

Over the course of Serve to Lead 2, I share what I have experienced while serving others, give examples of remarkable selflessness from people all over the world and attempt to give thanks to so many that have poured themselves into me without ever asking for anything in return. My goal is to hopefully inspire people to embrace putting others ahead of themselves and know that by doing this, their lives will have a much greater purpose and in turn empower others to achieve more than they ever imagined possible!  

Glenwood School (AL) head baseball coach Tim Fanning shared his amazing story of success despite the odds––surviving stage four colon cancer––and charitable missions across the world in Serve to Lead 2. Fanning, who has won eight state championships since taking over at Glenwood at 2004, was inducted into the Alabama Independent School Association’s Hall of Fame in 2017. Serve to Lead 2 offers concepts that can improve leadership and outlines how he has been able to impact lives around the world through his nonprofit organization “Serve to Lead,” which uses Christ, athletics, field construction, equipment donations, how-to clinics, bible distribution, and helping communities to deliver his message, all in the hopes of inspiring a new generation of servant leaders. For more information, visit

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.