“If you can accept losing, you can't win.” – Vince Lombardi
When watching a sports game in which none of our favorite teams are playing, Kevin always likes to root for the underdog. It is just great to see a small name team come out on top and surprise everyone. This takes on a whole new dimension when the underdog is your own child. Last year I wrote about how my daughter’s in-house softball team came back from a 0-16 season and beat the 16-0 team in the playoff game. Little did we know what a year we would be in for with travel ball.
Last summer our town league started its first travel softball team. The manager warned us that it would be a tough first season, with a new team playing against much more experienced girls. It was harder than any of us imagined, with our girls playing their hearts out and still losing with scores like 28-2, night after night and week after week.
I had to convince myself that I didn’t care about winning – I just wanted to watch my girls play their best and improve their skills. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick” it says in Proverbs – so I just stopped hoping we would win and got used to losing.
By the end of the season, many of our girls had improved so much that they tried out for other more established teams and were picked up. We were left with a core group of loyal girls – girls that could have made it onto Division I teams but wanted to stay with their coaches – and parents who wanted to stay local and pay local prices. These girls and their coaches worked hard all through the winter.
The managers worked hard to organize a spring travel season – on top of in-house – putting on an optimistic air externally but secretly fearing another losing streak. These underdogs played their first double-header set of travel games one Sunday in May.
The pitcher in the first game was the same girl who helped us win that playoff game I wrote about last year. By the third inning we were so far ahead that we were sure we would “mercy” them by the fifth inning. (If a team is 12 runs ahead after the fourth inning, they win by the “mercy rule”.) But in the fourth inning our girls got sloppy and allowed the other team several runs. We thought our coach was going to have a heart attack. We caught up our runs and won 22-17.
The pitcher in the second game was my daughter Audrey. She shut them out from scoring any runs the first three innings. By the fourth inning she was tired and a few runs were allowed. We won 16-5.
What a thrill it was for all of us.
We don’t do our kids any favors if we make things too easy for them. The parents who stuck by the underdog team allowed their children the sweet taste of victory that is even sweeter when gotten the hard way.
Competition is a great way to teach important lessons about adversity in life and the strength we gain every time we put up a good fight.
Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller
The Spring 12U Thunder Team