How to Stand Out in a Crowd

January 7, 2013 | 18 comments

I don’t watch much college football, and I know next to nothing about the Florida Gators.

But I do know something about honor and joy and grasping hold of beautiful moments. I witnessed all of that last week in the actions of Darrin Kitchens, one of the Gators players. I’d never heard of  Kitchens before last week, but I read about him in the papers. I read about his bold move when the Sugar Bowl ended, after the clock had run out.

Tradition has it that the Florida Gators players  join the band and fans in singing the alma mater after every victory. But this time, there would be no Gators victory. The Gators lost the biggest game of the season, to the surprise of almost everyone who keeps tabs on such things.

There were no balloons or fireworks or confetti or uncorked champagne for the Florida Gators — only the embarrassment of an upset, in front of a nationally televised audience.  Every one of the Gators dropped their chins to their chests and shuffled their shoulder-padded selves off the field.

Everyone except Darrin Kitchens.

When the marching band’s familiar notes began to float across the stadium, and the fans rose up to sing, Darrin left the crowd of sullen-faced players headed toward the locker room.

He went his own way, heading straight for the band.

He clutched his helmet between his fingers, then lifted his helmet to the sky. All those notes wrapped around him, and he was part of the song. It didn’t matter whether his team had won or lost. In fact, it didn’t even matter that he was sidelined the whole game.

Kitchens didn’t play a single second of the Sugar Bowl. He was not a star. He didn’t stand in the glaring spotlight of fame, or have his face splashed across the JumboTron. He didn’t earn a single line on the stat sheet.

But this? This one moment to sing a song? This one opportunity to lift up a hand, and to revel in the magic, and to wring one last bit of beauty of a slice of his time on Planet Earth?

He didn’t want to miss it.

And now, days later, he’s known for standing out in a crowd — not for his accomplishments but for a simple act of honor, pausing for something bigger than himself.

This wasn’t about fame.

He showed us what it means to live victoriously, even when the scoreboard tells you you’re a loser.

And I think I might want to live like that.


(Photo taken by Whitney Holtzman, a Florida graduate and current Major League Baseball social media coordinator.)


by | January 7, 2013 | 18 comments


  1. Dawn

    Me too! Thanks for sharing. Choked me up. My hear’s desire is to live. like. this. Every moment! Happy New Year Jennifer!

  2. Christie

    Oh, me too! What a great story.

  3. Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

    I tell people that “Go Gators” are the first words I ever spoke. I’m exaggerating, of course, but I come from a long line of Gators. We are so proud of this young man. What class.

  4. Megan Willome

    My sister-in-law was at the game. This gives me a reason to cheer.

  5. Kris

    I love this story-this encouragement to live like that! XO

  6. floyd

    Great post! I agree completely. As a coach I tried to express that a victory can be calculated by a number, but a win, well a win or a winner could only be measured across a lifetime… That young man is well on his way to being a winner in a more important game than that one; The game of life.

  7. Sylvia R

    Thank you for this.

  8. Diana Trautwein

    What a truly beautiful story. Thanks so much for sharing it so beautifully, too.

  9. Diane bailey

    I had not heard that story. I know his mom is proud of him. And I want to be able to recognize the “greater than me” and not my circumstances.

  10. kendal

    oh, i love this story! inspiring.

  11. Sue Awes

    Thank you Jennifer – ! I am passing this on. Rich story, beautifully told.

  12. Michelle DeRusha

    What a cool story – I hadn’t heard about it till now. I love the way you tell it.

  13. Kristen Strong

    I had not heard this story, but oh how I love it. And the way you hone in on the message by weaving glimpses of the big picture throughout? Well, it’s magical. Adore this, and adore YOU.

  14. Jennifer {StudioJRU}

    Oh this is good, Jennifer! What a wonderful story. Such an encouragement!!

  15. Nancy Ruegg

    Your heart-touching conclusion had me close to tears: “He showed us what it means to live victoriously, even when the scoreboard tells you you’re a loser…And I think I might want to live like that.” For me that means living aware–aware that the tiny moment-by-moment choices we make can pay huge dividends in the people around us. Darrin did it with his action. You, Jennifer, do it with your words. Thank you!

  16. Dolly@Soulstops

    Wow! Thanks for introducing me to Darrin and his story…Yes, to singing with Him no matter what the score…Always appreciate how you encourage my friend 🙂 Blessed 🙂


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