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.
“What do champs do?” I asked. (Note that we won the regular season championship, thus the #1 seed.)
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?”
and then Tyler said what I was wanting to hear…
“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
I repeated the question one more time and the looks on their faces started to match the intensity I was feeling myself.
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.
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.