Monday, March 1, 2010

Faces of Celebration and Despair


I watched the conclusion of the Canada/US Hockey match yesterday evening and while I missed the game tying shot that sent the game into sudden death overtime (blame it on a good book) I was entranced by the moments that followed the game winning goal.

The cameras panned from the dog-piling Canadian teammates jubilantly throwing their gloves off to the shocked blank faces that canvassed every United States player. Back and forth the network cut…jubilation…grief…..again, and again.

I’m not sure which is more enchanting to witness, because they are both moments so pivotal to the human existence. I would venture to say that just about everyone observing the moments that followed the game winning shot can identify with both parties. We have all had the big wins.

And we’ve all had the tough losses.


Next week will mark the official start of track season, a sport I have been involved in as athlete or coach for over a decade. For three months I will spend hours with students after school, into the evenings, and on weekends, trying to teach and train them to run faster, jump higher and throw farther. For three months I will sacrifice any freedom I had in my evenings to invest in the lives of students because I think there are lessons to be learned.

I don’t coach because I want to win, though I’ll admit it’s nice when it happens. I coach because I believe that sports often mirror life. We have wins, and we have losses—and we can learn from both. We find the most improvement we work hard at something. And few things worth celebrating come easy.

On a daily basis I try to teach these life lessons in the classroom, but it rarely comes as easily as it does on the track. There is something about physical exertion that far outdoes anything I can mimic on paper. And this is why I relish the hours in the rain, and sometimes ice, pounding out miles alongside my students as they struggle.

Victory or defeat, when hard work has been done, I feel my students are better prepared for the struggles they will face for the rest of their lives—regardless of whether it includes a gold medal.


  1. Just wanted you to know.. Everytime I read your post.. It makes me appreciate the little things.

  2. Hey toots! I've missed you the past few days.. lol. Love this post - I used to coach track, too! We have so much in common!!

    We start state testing this week which means I have to stand silently for hours without coffee!!

    ugh - will I make it through?