Winning is something that all of us had instilled in us as we grew up:
“It doesn’t matter if you come in second place, you still lost just like third place.”
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
“There is no substitute to victory.”
Tonight, I tasted sweet victory with ten boys that played their hearts out during our soccer game. I am, for the first time, a soccer coach for nine and ten-year-olds. My youngest never played soccer and I knew nothing about soccer before volunteering to be a coach. I volunteered because there wasn’t enough coaches and the recreational league was to the point they were going to have to turn some boys away from playing this year. I didn’t want that to happen, so I volunteered and studied as much as I could about soccer for two weeks straight before the practices started for the season. I know more about soccer than I ever fathomed I would know in my lifetime.
Have I had fun? Oh, how could I not with these ten boys who love to run into their coach during practice and throw balls at me (never again will I let them take over the “Simon Says” game). We have had our ups and downs and our wins and losses during this season. But there is one phrase I have taught them throughout this season and I started it early…no its not any of the phrases above. This is a whole new generation. A generation that needs encouragement because our world is tough enough and will be for them as they get older. I have taught them, “If you give 110% throughout the game, then you have won regardless of the score because you can hold your head high!”
Do my boys on my team know this? Yes, they do. They know that their coach is proud of them even if they tried to make that goal that didn’t quiet make it in. We just “shake” it off and keep going forward. As long as they tried their best, that is all that matters. We have lost games and my boys have walked away proud. We have also lost games and the boys have hung their heads because they knew that 110% wasn’t given. I don’t have to tell them, I ask them and they tell me.
Tonight was our first tournament game out of potentially three. If we didn’t win tonight, then we did not move forward. I gave the speech to my boys prior to the game that they were the decision makers as to whether or not this was their last game. How they played determined how they walked out of the game and ended the season. If we won, then we played tomorrow night and we celebrate tonight. If we lost and played our best, we still “won” and ended the season right because we gave it our all. Or they could have played horrible and ended the season on that note. It was their call tonight. My boys played the best game tonight they have played all season. They pushed through being elbowed and needing water. They did not grow tired and weary….they were strong and ran with all their might. My boys gave 110% and they know it. So even though we advance to the next level of the tournament playing an undefeated team, my boys are holding their heads high, not because we won by points, but because we gave it our all.
I hope this is a lesson they will remember as they get older and venture out on their own. I know that I will always keep the memory of standing in a huddle with my boys, hands stacked and me yelling, “What are we going to do tonight boys?” and them hollering back, “Give 110%”. I know that I will smile.
GO TEAM GO!!!