Monday, February 28, 2011

The Art & Grace of Losing

The very somber and quiet post-trophy-coaching-pep-talk.
The girls! Rach, Aiko, Katie, Kels, Dave, Rebecca, Sky, Lauren and 'Coach Alex'
REAL COACHES coach in vibram-five finger shoes!!!

For those followers of this blog, you know that this year is my first year coaching girls basketball for my buddhist church (Oakland Buddhist Church, AKA 'da OBC' or, the more politically correct: 'BCO'). The girls I coach are 11 year olds who have discovered the frustrations of the Angry Birds iPhone app, Justin Beiber (don't get me started), what 'Veganism' is and most recently, how to lose with grace and dignity.

Now, I'm not one to gloat and boast my, definitely not that type :-) But let it be known that in my first season coaching girls, my girls completely ran the tables! In our division, we played NINE GAMES AND WON ALL NINE GAMES. We were a perfect 9-0 heading into a tournament which was held in Berkeley this past weekend.

Game 1, we win, easy peezy. My girls are well-coached (thank you, thank you), well-balanced and well-versed in the battle arts known as women's hoops. As a result, we sail into the championship game against an opponent we have man-handled 3 out of 3 times. Little did we all know that going into our final game of the season, my newly 10-0 team would become a 10-1 team. And what a championship game it turned out to be. It went into overtime and for girls ball, overtime = sudden death (first to score = the winner). We ended up losing the game against this team by a free-throw. Game over. 14 to 13.

At which point, I saw my girls starting to tear up, and they came running to me apologizing. 'For what?!' I asked. But in reality, I knew they were apologizing not for their performance, but for losing the game. In my heart of hearts, I have been there. In fact, I have lost the game for my team twice and uttered the same words and cried into my dads arms. Those long faces full of sadness and disappointment. Ahh yes, it brought it all back to me. The other team rushed the court, the parents were up in arms for their kids and everyone was happy for them. My girls lined up to shake hands, faces dejected watching the on-going celebration that didn't stop. Few times have I ever felt so gutted; gutted because I too, had been exactly in their shoes. I too understand and can sympathize with their feelings.

Needless to say, we had a long team hug and the trophy celebration was a very somber one. Little did I realize that in all my teachings of basketball, my girls would turn around and teach me something about basketball and life. In order to win, one must lose. IN order to succeed one must know failure. Ask Michael Jordan and he'll tell you the same thing (google: Jordan quote failure). My girls played like all-stars and they stepped off the court as all-stars too. This post is dedicated to them and their effort, heart, ambition and desire.

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