As a coach, some of the most fiery halftime speeches I’ve given have been in situations where I knew my team had no chance to win. The lesson I am trying to convey in these types of situations is simple. Don’t quit.
It’s the greatest lesson that sports competition can teach young children. There is not necessarily nobility in failure, but there is great nobility in the striving. When you are down four – nil and you step out for the second half with the same focus, determination and effort you started the game with you are most certainly NOT a loser.
When I was a kid, for years and years, there was a poem on the refrigerator. I suspect most people have heard of it, in fact I bet a lot of folks had it on their fridge. It’s called “Don’t Quit” and I remember the first stanza still:
When things go wrong as they sometimes will
When the road you’re driving seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high
When you want to smile but you have to sigh
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must but don’t you quit.
If I put my mind to it I could remember more, but I’m sure you can Google it if you want to read the rest. Over the years I’ve recalled this silly thing many times when life has thrown me curve balls. Don’t quit, keep plugging, quitters never win. There is no shame in failure, but there is great shame in giving up.
Last fall life decided to lay off the off-speed stuff and fired a 105 mph fast ball, high and tight, that tagged me right in the ear hole. Even now I’m still lying in the dirt next to the plate trying to remember what day it is, but I’m not going to concede.
One of the things I’ve heard over and over again for the last nine months is “You’re so brave” or “You’re so strong”. I’m here to tell you that’s pure bullshit. I’m not brave, I’m definitely not strong, I’m mostly just really stubborn and I refuse to give up or give in. That’s all.
I miss Kev all the time, but I’ve come to the conclusion that someday I’ll see him again. When that day comes I don’t want to feel ashamed because I quit on life. Somehow I think he knows what we’re all up to and I don’t want him to give me a “what were you thinking” look when I see him again. I want him to pat me on the back and say “nice job” the way my dad did after a hard fought game.