On Sunday, October 24th, 2010 my son's football team lost in the first round of the playoffs. My son, and eight of his teammates who have remained on this same team, haven't won a game since.
Their coaches have volunteered hundreds of hours of their time, away from their families and rushing to practice after work. They talk on the phone after games and before practices. They discuss what worked, what didn't work and what they can try next time. They deal with parental complaints and many suggestions.
They disagree. They agree. They disagree again.
I know how much heart the coaches put into this team because my husband is one of those coaches. And the road to our win yesterday was a rough one, filled with hills and valleys. I wish every parent could only know the headaches and the frustration these coaches feel trying to work through losing game after game after game. The coaches have been together for three years, and they care about these boys. They know how much talent is on our team, and finding the right formula has taken much trial and error.
My son, our Sports Fanatic, was one of those boys. He continued to cry as he ate his ice cream, right in our kitchen. As we talked to him, offering up yet another, "stay with it" pep talk, he looked at us with teary eyes.
"I'm just so sick of losing."
But yesterday, after almost two years, he finally felt what it feels like to win again. As the whistle blew to end the game, many of the parents on the sidelines were leaping right along with the boys. The mother next to me was crying. We felt every loss just like they did. Sometimes, I feel as though we felt it more.
But win or lose, all these boys love the game. They always have.
And that makes them winners every time.