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Posts Tagged ‘David vs. Goliath’

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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David vs. Goliath

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on April 10, 2010 at 4:07 pm

When I was a kid, I used to wake up early on the weekend to watch one of my favorite shows… “Davey & Goliath.” I can still hum the theme song today.  Each show delivered a message, but for me, it was less about the message and more about the love of watching a boy with his talking dog.  It wasn’t until much later in life that I learned the actual story of David vs. Goliath.

Today was a big day for my son’s football team.  After dominating our first two opponents, it was time to test our mettle against the Goliath of the league.   Our opponents won the Super Bowl in the fall after going undefeated.  With all of the returning players from the fall, they are the team that many fear, and everyone respects.  And though we did well against them in a pre-season scrimmage game, we knew that this was going to be our toughest game of the year.

I’m not sure how all of the kids were feeling, but the coaches were on edge and ready to play the game.  As coaches, all we can do is prepare the team to the best of our abilities, but ultimately, the kids are the ones that have to execute on the field.  Despite our repeated warnings to the team about what to expect from the league favorites, it didn’t take very long for them to take advantage of our early mistake.  Three plays into the game, we were already trailing by a touchdown.

On the following possession, we moved the ball well, but ultimately fell short, turning the ball back over to our opponents.  Having already been a part of a team that lost badly to this team in the fall, I started to think that it was going to be a long day.  After all, our previous two opponents could not contain our star player.  But then again, the other teams were not the defending league champions.

After failing to score, our defense settled down and stopped our opponents, giving us the ball back with good field position.  This time, our running back broke through and scored.  After missing the extra point, we trailed by a point, but at least the game was starting to look competitive.

On the next possession, our opponent broke another run for a touchdown.  They added on the extra point and lead the game by eight points with less than two minutes to play in the first half.  At least we were getting the ball back with enough time on the clock to tie the game before half time.  Or so I thought.  The aggressive play by our opponent caused a fumble on our kickoff return.   It looked as if we would go into the half trailing by two touchdowns, but our team rose to the challenge.  The kid that fumbled the kickoff intercepted a pass deep in our own territory.  With very little time on the clock, we went into halftime trailing by eight points…but we were very much in the game.

Our team received the kickoff to start the second half, giving us a chance to tie the game up, but we didn’t do much.  It was a defensive third quarter for the most part, but we did score at the end of it.  After a successful two-point conversion, the game was tied going into the fourth quarter.  Needless to say, for the first time in a very long time, Goliath had something to be worried about.

With the final quarter winding down, it looked as if our best effort still wasn’t going to be enough.  Our opponent marched the ball down the field.  They had first down and goal to go from the nine-yard line.  There was less than a minute to play, and clearly, the odds were against us.

First down…our opponent gained two yards and called a timeout.

Second down…our opponent gained three yards and called a timeout.

With two more chances to go, it looked as if the game was going to end on a last-minute touchdown.

Third down…the running back on the other team breaks towards the opposite sideline, making it difficult to see the play from our vantage point.  I was disappointed because it looked like he was going to score, but elated when the referees indicated that it was our ball after recovering a fumble.  With less than 30 seconds left in the game, and about 95 yards to go for a touchdown, I figured that the game was going to end in a tie…which it did…sending the game to overtime.

Our opponent got the ball first.  Four plays, and our defense barely allowed a yard to be gained.  A score by us would give us the victory.

On the second play, our running back bolted towards the end zone on a beautiful run, but before he got there, the yellow flags came flying…a holding penalty against our team.  I dropped to my knees and pounded the turf out of frustration.  Two more plays, and we couldn’t move the ball.  It looked like double-overtime was in the cards.  But then it happened…

Our running back busted through the line on the exact same play that was called back moments earlier.  As he headed towards the end zone, I was jumping up and down celebrating.  No flags this time!  Somehow, someway, David had beaten the odds and managed to defeat Goliath in the game of the season.  Barring any unforeseen missteps by either team, it looks like these two teams should meet again in the Super Bowl.

As I hugged my son, congratulating him on a great game, he told me that he was the one that recovered the fumble to save the game.  Words cannot describe the pride that I felt at that moment, and still feel right now.  It seems appropriate that he would be the one to make the play, since he is sort of a “David” in his own right.

My son is one of the youngest kids on the team.  In fact, I’m fairly certain that he is the second youngest.  On top of that, he is one of the smallest kids on the team.  Only two kids are smaller than him, and both of them are playing football for the first time.  But despite his age and his size, he managed to earn a starting position on both offense and defense.  And though he isn’t known for his speed, his football quickness allowed him to earn the starting defensive end position (usually reserved for the biggest kids on the team).

Genetically speaking, the odds are stacked against my son when it comes to football.  He is likely to always be one of the smaller players, and will probably never be one of the fastest either.  But he is coachable, and more importantly, he has heart.  And that is something that you can’t teach.  Although I am the parent, and the one that is supposed to be teaching life lessons to my son, I learn from him as well.

Life isn’t always fair, and some people are blessed with better opportunities than others.  And while things may seem insurmountable at times, unbridled determination can help you beat odds that you never thought possible if you give your best effort.  In the immortal words of Jim Valvano…“Don’t give up…don’t ever give up!”

Today, we bask in the glow of our victory.  On Tuesday, when we return to practice, we will relinquish our David role and assume the role of Goliath.  Next week’s opponent is also undefeated, and I’m sure that they would like nothing more than to knock us from the ranks of the unbeaten.  I, for one, am looking forward to the challenge!

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