Hello and good day!
You know that old expression, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game?
Do you think that's true? I do.
I think that the scoreboard can show you winning, but lack of effort and determination can make you a loser at the same time. Likewise, the scoreboard can show you losing, but what you put forth in your attempt makes you a winner.
This is a beautiful thing.
All that matters is how much you give, and each of us has complete control over that.
I was lucky enough growing up to play on a couple of really good sports teams with excellent coaches.
I played on a football team that went one and ten my first year. Our coaching staff was lackadaisical and uninspired.
The next year, a new head coach came in who was fiery. He was the city's sheriff, and his son was our center. Coach played cornerback for BYU in college. He was tall and lean and strong and was one of the toughest men I've ever seen.
When he wasn't coaching, he patrolled the most dangerous parts of our city, doing his best to catch and lock up criminals.
For a few hours in the evening, he came out on the field and ran us into the ground. But he wasn't only tough. He was a great teacher.
Over and over, he beat it into our heads that we were required to give all we had. That was the whole point. If we gave that, he really didn't care what the scoreboard said.
We went undefeated that season and ended up in the championship game. We played the best team in the city, who won the championship every year. We beat these guys during the season, and we felt confident we'd beat them again.
But they had a strong coach too and they were looking for revenge. It was a closely fought game, but they got the better of us. They beat us by a single touchdown right at the end of the game.
I played offensive tackle, and I remember they had a middle linebacker who was scary. He used to line up right on the line and look his victim in the eyes. Crouched down in a three-point stance, he would roll his eyes up to look at you and then he'd start talking. "I'm coming for you. You know you can't stop me," he said.
And then he would curl his lips and breath hard through his nose, working himself into a frenzy. After the snap, he put his head down and bull rushed, and he was flat out stronger than all of our players. He kept getting into the backfield and breaking up plays. Almost mercifully, he changed from one player to the next, so we all shared in the punishment and embarrassment.
When you realize that somebody is simply better and stronger than you, it is demoralizing. You know you can't win, so what's the point?
At half time, we were down by two touchdowns and couldn't get our offense going at all, mostly because the offensive line was doing such a bad job. Coach pulled our unit aside and gave us stern talking to.
"I need to see you boys fighting. Do you understand me? Fight! Just fight!" he screamed at us.
A teammate raised his hand. "Coach, he's too strong. What are we supposed to do?" asked the boy. "You scared of him?" asked coach, taking off his hat and wiping sweat off his forehead.
We all lied and shook our heads.
"If you're not scared of him, then you fight him on every single down. If he wins, he wins. But you fight. Do you understand me?" we nodded. He paused and then took off the mirrored sheriff's sunglasses he always wore.
He let us see his eyes, something he didn't do often. "FIGHT HIM!" he screamed in our faces one last time, and we could see that his eyes were blazing.
"Yes coach!" we screamed. In the second half we fought. We still lost a lot of the battles, but we made the kid work for it. He stopped talking and we fought our way back into the game.
Right at the end of the game, it was tied, and the other team had the ball. I was on the sideline watching. It was third and long and they were back on their own thirty. If we could come up with a stop, we'd get the ball back with a chance to win. And we had a great punt returner.
The quarterback took the snap and pitched the ball out to their star running back on a sweep. Our best defensive end ran towards the sideline to cut off the edge. Our defensive end was a very strong young man and fearless.He got out to the edge and squared up on the running back to make a tackle, but the running back put down his head and ran right through our guy.
Beyond our defensive end, it was nothing but open field, and the running back took it seventy yards down the sideline for a touchdown.The players on the other side of the field were jumping up and down.
We stood and watched, dejected. They squib kicked the kickoff and we didn't have enough time to drive down the field and score.
We lost. When the horn blew, they stormed the field, champions.
Coach led us back into the locker room and we all sat on wooden benches in silence. "I want to tell you boys something," said coach. "The whole reason I decided to be your coach is because I hate that program out there. The kids don't know any better, but those coaches make me sick."
These were strong words.
"Last year when you played these guys, I was sitting on the sideline, and I heard those men talking. They were beating you something like forty-five to zero." "The assistant came over and asked the head coach if they should give the backups a chance to play." "The head coach shook his head and said no. He wanted to leave the starters in to run up the score as high as they could." "They ended up beating us something like sixty-three to zero. Remember?"
We all nodded.
"I vowed to myself that we would give them a fight for their lives. And that's what you boys have done today. We beat them during the regular season, and you proved to be their equals today."
He looked at our defensive end. "Johnny, you keep your head up, you hear me boy? You did everything right. He just got the best of you in that moment. He was running and had momentum. You were flatfooted and didn't have enough leverage. You've been our hero all year. You were in the right place at the right time. Nothing to be ashamed of."
"For all the rest of you, I couldn't be more proud. They got the victory today, but we're the better program, believe me. If you boys keep working like you've been working, nothing but good things will happen in your life. Bring it in."
We gathered around coach and each player put one hand in the middle."Winners on three. Winners on three. One, two, three!" shouted coach.
"Winners!" shouted the team.
We lost the game, but we walked out of the locker room with our chests puffed and our heads held high, because we knew we gave all we could, and we made coach proud.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
Follow us on Instagram - @fortunatonochocolate