What Do Champs Do?

It was probably one of my better motivational speeches. It was the third inning and we were down by the score of 0-5 in a tourney in which the team I coach was the #1 overall seed.  We’d just given up 3 runs and the boys were dragging a little as they jogged in from the field toward the dugout.  Before going in to bat, I called everyone over and had the team in a small circle outside our dugout.  I channeled my inner Gipper.

The Real Gipper

“What do champs do?” I asked. (Note that we won the regular season championship, thus the #1 seed.)

“Win”

“Battle”

“Score runs”

I took off my sunglasses and bent over, hands on my knees.  Scanning the eyes of my boys, I asked again,

“What do champs do?”

“Champs win!”

“Hit”

and then Tyler said what I was wanting to hear…

“Come back”

“Yeah.  Yeah,” I said.  “Champs come back.”

I put my arm around James to my right and Hunter to my left and again asked,

“So what do champs do?”

“Come back,” everyone said in unison.

“What do champs do?” And now everyone had their arms around their teammates shoulders and they said louder

“Come back!”

I repeated the question one more time and the looks on their faces started to match the intensity I was feeling myself.

COME BACK!”

And we did.  We scored 3 runs that inning off a pitcher who had dominated us up until that point. The score was now 3-5 bad guys.

And then we scored 3 more runs the next inning off a new pitcher. Suddenly it was 6-5 good guys!  The champs had come back!

Long story short…we lost the game.  Didn’t see that coming, did you?

Here’s the thing, though.  Yes, champs come back, but they also lose.  Look at the Blackhawks, for example.  They’ve won 3 championship titles in the past 6 years.  But guess what – that means they weren’t champions for 3 of the past 6 years.

Blackhawks Lose

Whether it’s the next inning, the next game, the next season, or the altogether new and different challenge…champions come back.  They learn and grow from both the wins and the losses.  They handle both with dignity and regardless of the previous outcome, champs are always determined to win the next one.

I’m guessing that most of us have things we’re trying to come back from right now.  Some with greater challenges than others, perhaps.  But you can only win the game your playing.  So go triumph.  Hoist that trophy high.  You’re a champion, dammit.

Champs come back

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It’s Not About Baseball, Guys

As the coach of my son’s travelling baseball team, I came up with a mantra of sorts that represents what I want us to be as a team:

Fearless, Fast, and Focused.

Catchy, right?  Let me break it down for you.

FEARLESS

I heard a story once that before every at-bat, baseball legend Ted Williams would quietly whisper to himself, “Ted [bleeping] Williams, the greatest [bleeping] hitter who ever lived.”  It wasn’t about being cocky, it was about believing in himself and reminding himself of what he wanted out of life.

“A man has to have goals for a day, for a lifetime. And that was mine, to have people say, ‘There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.’”

I tell the boys on my team that when they’re in the batter’s box, they’re in charge.  It doesn’t matter what the count is, how good the opposing pitcher is, whether the game is on the line, what the weather is like, etc….Nothing is going intimidate them. They’re going up there with every expectation of getting on base.

FAST

Ok, so this is really about being aggressive, but that would have killed the alliteration thing I’ve got going on here.

The main point is to do your best in every situation.  And once you’ve done your best, do better than your best.

SWING HARD AND RUN FAST! 

BE GREEDY!

One base isn’t enough! And the other team isn’t going to just give you a second one, you’re going to have to steal it from them!  Hey, turns out two bases isn’t enough either so steal a third!

 GREED IS GOOD!

I'm just talking about baseball now...

I’m just talking about baseball now…

FOCUSED

How many outs are there? 

How many runners are on base?

What has the umpire’s strike zone been like?

What should you be doing right now?  

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR WHAT’S COMING NEXT?

I tell the boys that I want them to be their own coaches.  I don’t want for me or any of the other coaches to have to yell out the answers to those questions from the dugout.  Because what if their next coach doesn’t do that?  Or what if the next coach does do that, but realizes he doesn’t have to with you because you’re already a half-step ahead of him?

Or

What if nobody is watching you?

Or

What if none of your coaches are around?

Or

What if you’re not even playing baseball?

Fearless, fast, and focused is how I want my boys playing the game.  It’s also how I want them living their lives.

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