What I’ve learned about sports (as an athlete, coach and now fan) is that so, so very many things have to happen, and to go right, for a team to achieve the kind of success defined as winning games.
There are other kinds of success, of course – among them: teamwork, humility, leadership, selflessness, dedication to short and long term goals, effort, attitude, sportsmanship … and all of these are reasons to participate in team sports, win OR lose. But once in awhile these attributes come together like cogs in a wheel compelling a machine forward. That’s what’s happened here in Belfast this season. The team is headed to the tournament in Bangor. Congratulations, boys!
What I want to talk about for a minute is those so, so very many things that have to go right that I mentioned above. It’s no small feat to get a spot in the tournament – that’s the first thing. It’s a big deal. It happens all the time, every season, for some teams, or it happens to one team for several years in a row for awhile, and when we see the names of those teams in the papers we are not surprised. Good for them.
But here in Belfast it’s been 15 years since we’ve been at the tournament. Not since our boys were in pre-school. It means that for all those years in between there have been kids, parents, coaches, families, school and community support – that have played a part in its happening. People who have encouraged, pushed, sacrificed and believed that in investing in the process of learning a sport and becoming coachable athletes – that maybe they would also have WINNING success. It wasn’t the primary goal. But when the rest of it is done right, and the winning happens as a by-product, it is PURE MAGIC.
This is the reason that it’s a community celebration that these kids are headed to Bangor today. It’s why we’re hoping that everyone who can drive in this snowstorm raging outside will meet us at the gym at noon and see these boys off in style. It’s why we’re hoping you can make it up to Bangor, sit on our side in your blue and yellow, and cheer your heart out for them.
The boys and all the coaches they’ve had along the way (THANK YOU COACHES) deserve our biggest voices and our collective support. Because they are a team of humble, selfless leaders with positive attitudes – and hope. ANYTHING can happen at the tournament in Bangor, not the least of which is a #8 seed upsetting the #1.
When I say it can be done, they are not empty words one says when David is facing Goliath. I mean: it can be done. By you.
Good luck. Have fun. We’ve got your back. Win or lose.
** Photo credits: Robin Lewis **