For now, I just want to share some thoughts with you about sports, and life, and parenting, and adulting, and teaching our kids about adulting. Hopefully you're picking up what I'm throwing down, ever so subtly.
If you're a local friend/follower, you know that our school just had to cancel the rest of the Varsity football season due to injuries and numbers. We started the season with lower numbers and, as it goes in EVERY football season, the injuries mounted. Unfortunately, they just didn't have enough healthy players to finish the season safely. So the decision was made to cancel. As you can imagine, the decision was devastating to the players and coaches. Nobody dedicates months of workouts, practices, and injuries because they can take or leave it. I can assure you, the guys left standing (and those that are not) would give anything to be playing under the Friday night lights tomorrow.
Here's what I find troublesome, and why I feel COMPELLED to raise my voice...the response these guys are getting from the student body, the community, and even some faculty has me dumbfounded. If there ever was a time to link arms with a brother...to carry him on your back, if necessary...to hold up his head when he struggles to lift it himself...it is when dreams are crushed and battle wounds are fresh. However, this has not been the response, overall. Instead of hearing encouragement and admiration, these boys are being mocked and ridiculed by the very people they've represented. I cannot stomach such a reaction. I cannot stay silent. If I am but one voice, I will be the loudest and most constant voice they hear.
At our team (football/cheerleaders) dinner last week, I asked the Coach if I could say a few words to the team. In a nutshell, let me share what I said to them and may some of it resonate with you today.
I just want you to know how extremely proud I am of each one of you. You have given your heart, your soul, your bodies to this game and this team. There are those that have seen fit to criticize your effort, your abilities, and your heart. But I just want to say how much I admire your determination to take that field day after day, week after week. You've shown up and given more effort that most of us could even fathom. I'm not just saying this as a mom...I'm saying this as a coach and a spectator as well. Anyone that knows you, knows that you would be out there if it were up to you. I'm proud of you. I'm proud of the men you ARE, and the men you are BECOMING. You WILL be stronger because of this. There is no substitute for learning what it takes to rise up from the ashes and press on. Show me a man that has faced adversity and has known what it is to drag himself out of the pit to keep going. This is a man I can get behind. This is a man I would follow. Let me tell you, there's nothing sadder than someone who's always been on top...to suddenly face hard reality as an adult but has no idea how to handle it. They choose instead to walk away from their family, their job, their responsibilities. You know defeat now...how much sweeter will the victories be down the road? We believe in you. Not just as football players, but as men. Remember that.
And so, I would ask you to evaluate your own responses. Students, (if any of you read blogs written by old ladies) put yourself in their shoes. I know it makes you feel better when you can give someone else a hard time about their failures. Trust me, adults do it too. It's a sad reality. But just for a minute, think...what if everything you'd worked for for over 3 months was suddenly cancelled...and not only that, your peers...your mentors...your friends pounced on the opportunity to question your character, your determination, your heart. Because let me assure you, the time will come when your own dreams are crushed. How would you want someone to handle those dreams of yours? Same goes for faculty, staff, adults in the community...how have other people handled your own dreams that were crushed?
We need to do better. We must do better. This isn't about a game. This is about integrity. If these boys can't trust you with their losses, how can they trust you with their victories?
Another thought...if you're reading this and thinking, "But..." you've missed the whole point. Any excuse you have for criticizing the team and coaches right now, is honestly, just selfish. There is a time and place to reevaluate how to move forward, what steps should be taken, what was good, what should be changed...but now is. not. that. time. Now is the time to pick up the fallen and lift up the broken. Now is the time to come together as one. Now is the time to celebrate effort and heart. Now is the time to say, "Win or lose, I'm proud to be a Bear!"
And frankly, if you cannot say that, then now is the time to be silent. I'm speaking for my family, for the cheerleaders, for all the moms of these boys, and for the wives of the coaches. We will stand together. We hope you'll join us, but if not, kindly step aside so we can move forward. We want to celebrate this team, our CC team, our volleyball teams, and our entire Bear family. More precisely, we want to show our children...and our children's children...what family really means.