“They made history and not the way you want to make history. They remade it this year.”
–Melanie Walker, Mom of UVA Basketball Player Ty Jerome
I just finished reading an article in today’s local newspaper, theTennessean, “Virginia Revels in Emotional Win,” by Scott Gleeson. It conjured up a mock Jeopardy question under the category “GREAT IRONIES IN SPORTS.” The answer is, “Come back next year and win it all.” The correct corresponding question is “What does a team picked to be a no. 1 seed do when losing to a no. 16 seed in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tourney?”
Have you ever needed redemption? We all have at some point in our lives. The world of sports is no different. The journey of youth sports is sprinkled with many stories of huge disappointments leading to huge victories. For example are some I have witnessed: a young gymnast falls off the balance beam in competition, then sticks her release move and her landing on the next event, parallel bars. A catcher misses a pitch in the dirt and a runner scores. When said catcher gets up to bat, he blasts a triple down the left field line into the outfield, scoring two RBI’s. A football team loses in OT in regular season to its biggest rival, then earns a rematch in the championship and wins decisively.
There is something that occurs within the context of intense disappointment that creates space for redemption. Whether you barely miss the goal, or are blown out of the competition, there are choices to be made. Will you be satisfied to live with the harsh criticism from within or from others? Are you content with 2nd or 3rd or 4th or 16th finishes? Do you want to prove something that you believe about yourself or your team? Does the desire to represent with excellence rise to the surface?
In the aftermath of the victory, players and coaches were grateful to those who were in attendance, who confidently stood and cheered their team throughout the game. Ironically, Kyle Guy, the Tourney MVP, expressed appreciation to yet another group: “To all the doubters, I just want to say, thank you. You’re not the why, but you definitely added fuel to the fire….Everything we’ve been through, it was for a reason.” I am sure that the stinging loss from one year ago was a catalyst for the results of this year’s tournament, putting Virginia on the winning path.
As a parent of young athletes, collect stories like these. Whether the difficulty be defeat, injury, a disappointment, you can offer encouragement to your child through the history of others who experienced similar circumstances. These stories point to individuals or teams who overcame their obstacles, and made revisions to their reputations and history. Those opportunities will be awaiting any athlete who ventures to risk failure by playing sports. Your child will develop coping skills in a lower stakes environment which will continue to serve him throughout his life. This is one among many benefits of your child’s participation in sports.
–Maximize the good that can come from a negative result in sports: heightened motivation to practice and improve, for example.
–Parents should have a story “at the ready” when a young athlete suffers significant disappointment, injury, defeat, or setback.