Point to Ponder #9: Handling Adversity
One of the toughest things I have ever done as a coach or A.D. is watch the tears flow after a heart-breaking loss. And that happened tonight as one by one each Lady Norse walked from the locker after a season-ending loss to Wabash. Sadly, for two of them….Sydney and Hannah….it would be for the last time.
Now, believe it or not, I was actually glad to see the tears. Seeing tears means that it hurt to lose. Everything they had done to prepare for this game, every ounce of energy they burned to get to this point, every drop of sweat seemingly was for not. But that is NOT the case at all. It was worth it….and that’s why they were hurting. They gave their all. And when you give your all and you lose, it hurts. And it hurts badly.
Two outstanding girls’ basketball teams took the floor tonight. No matter how many times that game would have been played one team would have won and the other would have lost. And one team would have shed tears. But we don’t get to play 5, 7 or 15 games in the tournament. You get ONE shot. And in this particular instance Wabash hit their free throws and we didn’t. Plain and simple. But don’t sell Wabash short. They played well and the Hampton girl hit just about everything she shot. They deserved to win.
How we handle losing may very well be more important than winning. It’s easy when you win. It’s much harder to deal with when you lose. After all, we put so much into getting to this moment. Still, we lost. But it wasn’t due to a lack of effort by anyone. It wasn’t because the Norse weren’t prepared. It wasn’t because we played without confidence or poise or hustled our tails off. We lost because we missed free throws and they didn’t. You shake their hands and you walk off fully determined to change the outcome next time. The difficulty in this lies in the fact that “next time” is a long way off (for the seniors…it may never happen again). But you can certainly keep your head up and look in that cliché’ish mirror and say “I did the best I could.” And that’s all anyone can ever ask of you. It’s not the end of the world. We will wake up tomorrow with all the same life concerns we had today. We just won’t be playing basketball tomorrow.
We are going to experience failure and loss throughout our lifetimes. We have to be able to handle it especially when it is “just” a game. Yea, to many of us it is more than that, but it is really just a game. It’s not life or death and the world will not end tomorrow because we lost to Wabash. But how we handle will have a greater impact on how we handle adversity in the future. We can whine about it and make excuses or we can accept the fact that we did our best and just came up a little short this time. Let’s be real….Wabash won by 30 point just 2 months ago. Yes, we won by 6 at County but the simple law of averages still would seemingly make them 12 point favorites. We were right there until the end. So who really played the better game tonight all things considered? Then, again, does it really matter? Not really. Replay the game and beat yourself up by watching the game film 1000x in a row….Wabash will win this game every time. Move on. Tomorrow is a new day. Let it motivate and drive you to get them the next time.
And one last word for the 2012-13 Lady Norse…..
Steve Brubaker, who knows a lot about the history of Lady Norse basketball and was a former coach of the team, told Coach Cervenka before we headed home for the evening that she should be proud for what this team accomplished. It was one of the best records in the last 30 years of NHS girls’ basketball. The team got better as the season went on. Great points. I added that the girls just gained confidence as the season wound down. I know she was hurting but she has nothing to be ashamed of.
I truly believe that this team was the most close-knit, on the floor, than any girls’ basketball team since I have been at NHS. I couldn’t be more proud of their confidence and poise over the last few weeks. Nothing seemed to rattle the girls. They handled a ton of pressure and did it with class. That’s what is important in the overall scheme of things. I thought they truly believed they were going to win until very late in the game but by then most of us knew it was over. But that doesn’t take away from all the great things they accomplished as a group. And they are still 2012 Wabash County Champions! They took one step forward…maybe two!!
If you listened to my comments on the radio after the game, they should understand that they are “right there!” You all know that we have won 2 state titles in baseball. In both cases, I felt the team the year before was very good and could possibly make a run in the tournament. One got beat in the sectional final and the other in the regional final. So close, but believe me it hurt. A lot. But we just didn’t quite have all the pieces in place. Same holds true here. This team is so close! And let’s not forget that in both cases, these baseball teams turned it up a notch, got more focused and determined (and better!) and overcame adversity to do something special. It wasn’t about me. It was more about them…well, us…working together for a common goal with EVERYONE on the same page.
One of my heroes, Abraham Lincoln said it best…”A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And I can tell you in sports that this includes the players, coaches, parents and fans alike. You want success? We have to stand together. If any of the pieces aren’t there it will not work! It is too much to overcome. A house divided will not stand. It will implode. I tell my kids until I am blue in the face “It is hard enough to play the opponent. We cannot compete against them and ourselves. It is too much to overcome.”
In the end….You can make excuses and come up with a myriad of things to steer you from your dreams or you can take some time off, recharge your batteries (or play a spring sport, start preparing for next year or getting faster/stronger) then come back more determined than ever so that you can prove the skeptics wrong that you are a great team and can get over that hurdle that alludes you. There will be more blood, sweat and tears along the way (and Cherish will be back too….don’t forget no matter how bad this feels that I guarantee you that Cherish suffered much more having to sit and watch you guys play than you did losing one game!!) but in the end….when you reach that goal (or even if you don’t)….it will all be worth in the end because you can say “we gave it everything we got.”
We all get knocked down sooner or later. Those who pick themselves back up, clean themselves up and get back on the path to glory do so much faster than those who make excuses, blame others or point fingers. That’s easy and, frankly, immature.
In the end, you either handle adversity or let it adversely affect you.
Lady Norse, I think you can handle it. I challenge you to handle it. And in the end IT WILL BE WORTH IT!!!
Thank you for a great season. 16-6. Wabash County Champs and you beat 3 of the teams that had beaten you previously. To steal from Coach Leming: “Awesome!”