Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's Something That We Do

Country singer Clint Black wrote a song about the love he and his wife share. Love is not something that we have, or find, or fall into, he says, it's something that we do.

My father and I never said "I love you" to each other very often. I can only remember a few distinct times when I said so, and not many more when he did. Yet I always knew, and I hope he does, that our love is true and steadfast and eternal.

I remember him on the cold sidelines during my November soccer games. I remember playing catch and throwing spirals. I remember watching the first moonwalk together. I remember him crying when President Kennedy died and again when my grandfather passed away. I remember him smoking fat cigars--that smell forever reminiscent--while watching Redskins games together. I remember him convincing me that cold "Navy" showers were a good idea. I remember him as my first cubmaster. I remember him at the dining room table on Sundays, his great "stone face" teaching us manners and respect for our family and my mother. I remember his embrace when I didn't make the William and Mary soccer team. I remember his happiness in all of my successes, and his compasion when I didn't succeed. I remember his kindness toward all of my friends, and his affection for my wife.

This is love. In none of those times was it ever stated. It was just something that we did.

There's no request too big or small
We give ourselves, we give our all
Love isn't someplace that we fall
It's something that we do

I love you, Dad.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Be All That You Can Be

In their tenth try, my soccer team had the best and most consistent performance they've ever had in a tournament. Playing against two rival teams, and a third they had not played before, they won three consecutive matches to make it to the championship. While they faltered, finally, in the last match, there was no question that they had done their very best.

Yes, they had been in championships before, but there was no mistaking their path this time. They didn't have to wait for the outcome of any of the other games to see where they stood--as they sometimes have in the past. This time they did it all on their own.

But, how do I explain what happened? There were just as many reasons why we shouldn't have done well as why we did. Five of our girls weren't available to play and were replaced by two younger players who were unfamiliar to our team. One of our keepers could catch and throw, but couldn't kick due to an injury. Really, they will always be competitive, but who would expect them to be winners this time?

I guess I do, always, and they do, too.

I don't think it ever occurred to a single Avalanche that they should do anything but go out and win. They played with passion, intensity, and consistency. They played together, and when the play got rough they were fiercely competitive. When they had chances to score they made them, and when they needed to make a great defensive play they did that, too. They accepted their guest players who then lived up to the expectations set by their temporary teammates.

Yes, they ran out of energy in the second half of the final, and lost to a deserving champion, but what a thrill to see these rapidly maturing, smart, intense, and beautiful athletes playing as a team game in and game out--each match better than the previous one. It's called "living up to your potential," and it was a gift to behold.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Think of Yourself as More Than You Are, and You Will Be

Prior to yesterday, over the past two seasons, my girls soccer team had played 11 games, The record? 3 wins, 3 losses, and 5 ties. Yes, that's right, almost half of the matches have ended in ties. Overall, the record is exactly even. As you might expect that puts us sqauarely in the middle of the pack: not too bad, but not really too great either.

So before the game yesterday I said, "I think we're too satisfied with being average." The reality is that the Avalanche is in a very competitive division so ties can actually be something to be proud of. On the other hand, real accomplishment comes when you break through that tendency and do whatever it takes to get just beyond the break-even point.

How many ways have I come up with to say that a tie is "good enough" when I always believe that we can do better? Can we think, collectively, that we are really better than our results show, and what would happen if we just got that in our heads right from the start?

So they tried it, and it worked. Not right away, but gradually. You could see it happening. At first, they started out slow, which is their tendency, but then you saw one or two girls really stepping up, and confidence started to spread from Allyson to Taylor and from Barta to Schwind. By the end of the game, it was happening up and down and across every inch of the field.

3-0, Avalanche wins. It pays to think big.