I spoke at the Kapaun Mount Carmel girls soccer banquet, at the invitation of coach Alan Shepherd. I was flattered to be asked, until my 9-year-old asked me why the heck I was invited since I’m clearly not famous and clearly not a former great soccer player. Sigh.
Shepherd asked me to talk about adversity. The Crusaders had experienced just that in their final game, the 5A quarterfinals on a rock-hard field in what was kindly termed a duststorm. It was a tough ending to a good season.
The Crusaders didn’t finish where they wanted to, that’s for sure. There were elements outside their control that they had to face, too.
And you know what? That’s the way life is. It smacks you upside the head sometimes — and you never see it coming. You have prepared, you have put yourself in a position to succeed and then BAM! Maybe a ref makes a crucial call, maybe your coach doesn’t play you as much as you think he/she should, maybe you just have a bad game.
How do you battle through that?
I believe it’s a mental fight. You have to battle through, you have to push, you have to continue fighting no matter what you’re faced with. I used an example of my son who ran the 100 meters for the first time last week at the Wichita State track meet ($5 on Thursday nights, any age can do any event). My son is 7 and he slowed up at the end — he didn’t know where the finish line was. It was only his second race ever — he had run the 40-yard dash about 15 minutes earlier. He was upset.
But his dad and I told him it was OK and to remember — always run your hardest until they tell you to stop. Don’t guess on the ending, keep pushing. Keep fighting. Your body tells you to stop, your mind tells you to stop, but you keep pushing.
Tell me that isn’t an awesome lesson?
Because this is what sports do — they teach us about life. To be disciplined and on time, to respect others, to collaborate with a team to reach a greater goal, to always do your best, to prepare yourself.
But sometimes you still get that hit upside your head. You want to stomp your feet, cry, throw something. Goodness knows, we all do. But you keep going, take a deep breath.
Adversity stinks, but boy, you sure can become a better person by going through it. For how you handle the tough times, that’s what defines your character.