Tonight I read an article that spoke volumes. I got to know Charlette and Tim while I was on staff at Sunshine Community Church. For a season, Charlette worked on the Children’s Ministry Staff with me and as I remember those days, I remember wonderful times. I have not seen Tim and Charlette much over the last 15 years, but when I read the article below, it made me realize how again, what wonderful people Tim and Charlette are.
It isn’t any one thing that I would say is so remarkable, but it is their commitment to each other, their children and their community. It isn’t about the short-term victory or about the hype that may stay for a season, but it is about creating life changing opportunities and recognizing that not everything comes easily.
I am not sure what you think of when you read this article.
I envision the faces of those I know and love who understand the unique challenge of parenting, being a sibling to or caring for those with special needs…
I admire those who honestly delight in a winning season or love the thrill of sports, but also understand that at the end of the day, life is much more than that…
I hope you read this article and are inspired…inspired to live true to your conviction and calling…inspired to live out of your passion and to love deeply those who are important to you.
Thank you Tim and Charlette, Haley, Sydney, Cole and Isaac for uniting as a family and living life honestly!
But Muller understands better than most that priorities can change.
There’s her love of basketball — such as game strategy on the fly, teaching the proper form on jump shots and preaching the value of footwork on defense.
But there’s a greater love. After two highly successful seasons at Grand Rapids Christian, Muller’s priority now is teaching her 5-year-old special needs son.
That means foregoing a dream of taking a team to a state final, and the likelihood of coaching two daughters at the varsity level.
Her soul-searching led her to put it all in the backseat for her son Isaac, who has Down syndrome.
“God worked on our hearts a long time,” said Muller, who has resigned as Eagles coach.
“The world of special needs needed someone with my ability and passion. God changed my heart and said, ‘Charlette, there are other doors I want you to go through.’ I felt pulled in a totally different direction.”
Muller leaves behind remarkable success in her two seasons as head coach. A former assistant at four different stops before landing her own head coaching position, Muller elected to trade in a 44-5 record and two OK White titles for additional time with her son.
Muller, The 2010 Associated Press Class A Coach of the Year, is at peace with the decision. Still, the change affects a family whose lives revolve around athletics. Husband Tim has been an assistant with his wife at East Grand Rapids, Calvin College and Aquinas College in addition to Grand Rapids Christian.
Daughters Haley, who is 15, and her 12-year-old sister Sydney, are both excellent basketball players, and Haley has a chance make the Eagles’ varsity team this season as a sophomore. The Mullers also have a 10-year-old son, Cole, whom they joke is torn between one day becoming a professional basketball or football player.
Muller plans to work with Grand Rapids Christian trainer Joe Cebulski to start the “8th Day Gym,” an after-school facility designed to involve special needs children with physical activities.
In working at least 20 hours at the facility, Muller said there will be little time leftover for coaching and spending quality time with a growing family.
Cebulski said Muller is a natural at working with special needs children.
“They broke the mold with her. She’s a fantastic person and a great loss for Grand Rapids Christian,” Cebulski said.
“For us doing the things we do, she’ll be a vital part of working with special needs kids.”
Something had to go and it was coaching, said Muller, who was as assistant coach under Al VanDenBosch when Isaac was born.
Muller said VanDenBosch and her husband were supportive of her coaching career. But as her career progressed — and girls basketball switched from the fall to winter — Muller found two roles to be too much.
“I made the right decision, but I can also say I would have enjoyed coaching 10 more years,” Muller said. “For some families, (the schedule) can work. But I’m a stay-at-home mother, and I need to be with my kids. That’s an important thing in the Muller house.”
Muller said the family of a special needs child passes through many stages, from the original grief to acceptance to recognizing a teachable moment for the other children.
Isaac’s condition, she said, has enabled her other children to develop traits such as patience, responsibility, forgiveness, learning that everyone has their own place in a family and, especially, unconditional love.
“I will teach them,” Muller said of her children, “but they are living it.”
Tim Muller, a former basketball player at Grand Rapids Christian and Grand Rapids Community College, said the entire family recognizes the challenge and commitment of a special needs child.
“It’s not something you can do by yourself. It’s important to spend 24/7 with them,” he said. “Our kids are tremendous. They understand what a team effort it takes in day-to-day in helping Isaac live his life. We understand as a group what our commitment is.
“As a family, we’re very active and we enjoy our kids’ participation in sports, but Issac certainly creates an opportunity that at the end of the day reminds us there are things more important in life than making all-conference. It’s a whole another barometer or measuring stick of what success means to a family. It’s changed our family’s goals.”
In dealing with changing priorities and hopes, Charlette Muller said there is one piece of advice she is quick to offer other families with special needs children: Take nothing for granted.
“You can’t lead a life where you take everything for granted. Whatever you have a passion for, use that to dictate how you deal with your child’s differences with other children,” she said.
“I know I’m giving up coaching both daughters, but I hope people understand that I am following a nudging of the heart, that I’m doing what I’m doing because I think it’s right.”