Mike was a senior starter on one of my basketball teams. He wasn’t the best kid on the team, but he was a great young man. Lots of energy. Lots of enthusiasm. The rah-rah kind of kid each team needs to have and rally around. I brought up Steve, a younger kid to compete for a starting position. Of the starting five, Mike knew he was in danger of not starting. Yet, it was Mike who told Steve to partner with him on shooting drills. On the sideline, Mike would take the time to explain this play or that drill, what I might be looking for on this defense. Mike wasn’t the captain, except by example. Was Mike a winner?
Tiffany is a very successful college soccer coach. As a sixteen year old, she landed on the Women’s National Team alongside Mia Hamm and the other stars who went on to win. But at sixteen, she was scared. It was Mia who came to her at that first workout and said, “When we run, I want you to run next to me. You can do this. I’ll help you.” Mia didn’t have to do that. After all, she was and is a star. But she extended herself to this new sixteen year old kid and made her feel welcome, accepted. Besides the medals and post-soccer honors, was Mia a winner? Tiffany uses that experience to encourage and foster that same attitude in her older, veteran players to help the younger kids on her team. Passing it forward. Growing the attitude of acceptance, of family, of ‘us’.
I like to win. I am competitive and I don’t like to lose. Being the second youngest out of ten, winning and competition was bred in me early on. Get to the dinner table late, you miss out. Last cookie or piece of pie, better grab it. Get to the car first or you’re sandwiched somewhere in the middle between the bigger kids. As a coach, I don’t think I would have been as successful as I was if I didn’t have that competitive mentality.
But I also learned that there is a way to win. Sometimes, how we win is more important than actually winning.
Meghan won the 1600 meter race at the Ohio High School State Championships. She was the first girl in the last twenty years from her high school to ever win at state. But it was after that race that made Meghan an even bigger winner.
You see, Meghan had to run the 3200 meter race after the 1600 meter race. Towards the end of the race, one of the runners fell and collapsed on the track. It was Meghan who stopped and helped carry that runner across the finish line. And, it was Meghan who made sure that this runner finished before she did. It was Meghan who finished last, not the runner who fell. I pasted in the 2:42 minute link in this post because the story is inspirational and I thought you might like to view it. If the hyperlink doesn’t work, you can copy and paste it into your browser.
But my question is, did Meghan win? I mean, beyond the first place in the 1600 meter, did Meghan win? Is she any less because she stopped, helped a fellow runner and ended up last . . . on purpose, or was she perhaps, more? Was she weak because she stopped to help the runner, or perhaps, strong?
Aren’t Mike and Mia and Tiffany and Meghan the kinds of people we want to surround ourselves with? Aren’t they the kinds of players we want our own kids to be surrounded by? To emulate? To hold as role models and mentors? It’s okay to be competitive. Nothing wrong with that. But perhaps it’s in the ‘how’ that’s important. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!