Have you ever attended a high school sporting event and noticed the kid whose glued to the game? How about the kid who is running around with their friends but as soon as a certain name is announced over the loud speaker, their attention immediately turns to the game?

Kids’ heroes aren’t reserved for the rich and famous ... or just for dad or grandpa ... high school athletes rank right up there for them!

Recently, the youngest hockey player in my home was sitting next to me at a choir concert for one of the older boys. He was scanning the program and recognized a name, exclaiming, “that’s Michael Burrito’s sister!”

A slip of the tongue rendered Michael DeBrito, Otter varsity hockey player who recently surpassed his 1,000th career goal, “Michael Burrito.”

It just so happened that Michael’s father happened to walk past at about the same time, so I shot him a quick message with what just happened, sharing that our little hockey player was a fan and that the “big kids” made an impact on the little hockey players in our community.

A few messages were exchanged and a few days later a letter arrived in the mail.

“Haakon, you’ve got mail!” I yelled down the stairs after he returned home from school.

“Me? Haakon?” he questioned, running up the stairs with a look of shock on his face.

I handed him the letter and he ripped it open, completely destroying the envelope in the process. He unfolded a note and an Otter player card featuring and autographed by Michael DeBrito fell out.

Haakon read the note to himself, then yelled, “Just a second!” and ran downstairs, player card in hand. He reappeared with a second player card that he received at “Meet the Otters Night,” an event where all the Fergus Falls Youth Hockey Association hockey players have the opportunity to meet and skate with the high school players.

“I have two Michael DeBritos!” he gloated, doing a little dance and agreeing to let us read his note, which read:

“Haakon, Keep having fun with hockey and keep workin hard at it. You’ll be wearing an Otter jersey before you know it! Best wishes, Mike”

The kid was on cloud nine!

For the past three weeks, I have found that note and a pair of Michael DeBrito cards all over the house. On the couch, dining room table, piano keyboard, kitchen counter, back to the piano ... I even found them next to the bathroom sink!

Without a doubt, Haakon is pretty proud of his Michael DeBrito cards and he pays special attention to any mention of a DeBrito (or burrito).

I, on the other hand, am pretty proud of the young man himself. Mike didn’t have to do any of those things — but he did. He took a few minutes out of his day to make a huge difference in the life of a little hockey player who thinks he’s a pretty cool guy. That matters. He didn’t do it asking for recognition or a pat on the back — he just did it. Those little things ... they matter.

Michael (Burrito) DeBrito, thanks for making a difference. Keep making a difference and being a great example and role model for the younger players. You already had fans in our house before, but you certainly always will — long after the Otter jersey is hung up.

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