Posts Tagged ‘A Season to Remember’

A Season to Remember

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on May 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm

As we walked off of the field after our Super Bowl, I looked up into the stands, saw all of the parents giving our team a standing ovation, and it got me a little choked up.  I couldn’t help but think how lucky these kids were to have experienced such an amazing season together.   The only thing that could have made it better was if we had actually won the game and the league championship.

Despite a hard-fought battle, it was a case of too little, too late.  We lost by one touchdown to the defending champions.  The team that most feared.  The team that dominated every team that they have played for the last two years (except for us).  I wrote about how we beat them earlier in the year in a post entitled “David vs. Goliath.” And though we came out on the losing side of this battle, this was anything but an easy victory for our opponents.

After the game, I sought out one of the dads from the other team.  Our sons played together in the fall, and I wanted to congratulate him on his son winning the championship.  He shook my hand and said…“I’m just glad that this isn’t a best of three series.” I imagine that most of the parents on the winning team felt the same way.

Long before the game was played, we planned for our team to have the year-end pool party right afterwards.  Part of me thought that this was a great idea because it would give the kids a chance to extend their celebration if they won.  But another part of me knew that we were in for a battle, and that victory was no sure thing.  I feared that the well-deserved celebration of this season would be tainted if the kids were sitting around bemoaning the loss of the game, rather than enjoying one final moment together as a team.  I’m happy to say that I was 100% wrong!  The team party was just what the kids needed to get past the disappointment of losing the championship game.

We arrived at the party a little bit later than most because we had to stop home to pick up a few things.  By the time that we arrived, the kids were all playing together in the pool and on a gigantic inflatable water slide.  There was a smile on EVERY kid’s face.  It probably shouldn’t surprise me any longer, but I still tend to marvel at the resiliency that kids show in the face of trying times or disappointment.  Clearly, the kids had already put the loss in proper perspective and had moved on to living in the moment and enjoying the party.

For the first time since my son started playing organized sports, I was disappointed to see the season come to an end.  I looked forward to each practice and each game because we were a part of something that reminded me of my little league baseball team that stayed together for four years.  Like my little league team, this football team featured a great group of kids that worked hard to be their best while truly enjoying being around each other.  It was, by far, the best coaching staff that I have been a part of, and the parents were all very supportive and friendly (just like my little league team).

At the party, the parents all sat around socializing while the kids played in and around the pool.  For a while, I sat on the edge of the pool as the boys roughhoused in a spirited game of water basketball.  Before long, I ended up being the only adult in the pool, playing alongside the kids.  They all wanted me on their team…the first time that has happened to me in any sort of basketball game.  I guess it made sense, being that I was the tallest “kid”.  I participated for a while, and then eased back towards the middle of the pool as I watched the game, just trying to soak in the moment of our last time together as a team.

I played along and ducked for cover under a pool toy as some of the kids nailed me with their super soaker water guns.  I happily watched as the kids showed me their flips and dives into the pool.  You could hear the excitement in each of their voices as they yelled… “hey coach, watch me!” Truth be told, I didn’t want the party to end because I was having as much fun as the kids were.

After the kids were presented with their trophies, each of the coaches was presented with a gift from the parents.  In my past coaching experiences, the gifts were usually a gift card to a store or restaurant (which I greatly appreciated).  However, this year’s gift was even better.  It was a photo album featuring highlights from the season, including candid shots of me working with the kids that I didn’t even know existed, largely because I was always living in the moment at the time.

In fact, living in each moment with this team is exactly what made it so special for me.  It never mattered if I was having a good day or a bad day.  Whatever happened during the day left my mind the minute that our practice or game started, and didn’t return until I had returned home.

I can honestly say that almost every kid on the team showed a great deal of improvement by the end of the season.  Since it was my first time coaching any of them, I can’t tell if the progress that they made was similar to what they had made before with previous coaches.  However, this was my son’s fourth season, and I can say (without hesitation) that this was his best one yet.  He worked as hard as any kid on the team, and developed his skills more than I’ve ever seen him do in the past.

Words cannot describe the pride that I have for my son for what he has accomplished this season, especially since he is one of the youngest and smallest kids on the team.  While he may not be the biggest, the strongest or the fastest one on the team, his heart is as big as any kid that I’ve ever seen.  And for the first time since he started playing sports, he developed real friendships that go beyond the field and the game.  What more could any parent ask for?

We may not have won the championship, but I would not trade this season or this team in for anything, and I’m sure that my son feels the exact same way.  Given the choice between just winning a championship or being on a team filled with great kids, parents and coaches and not winning the championship, I’ll take the latter every day of the week.

As I reflect back upon my own little league days, I can only remember a handful of actual game memories.  But I will never forget what it was like to be a part of something special with that team.  It was what I have wanted most for my son ever since he started playing organized sports.  Thankfully, I got to see that dream become a reality for him this season.  It truly was a season to remember!

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