Sunday, December 20, 2009

On Winning and Losing

It was pretty shocking to see “Wrenshall” on my Yahoo News ticker. I didn’t believe it. My little town of 350 people in the headlines? When I clicked on the links to this story and this one, I read about our girls high school basketball team and their 65-0 loss.

I had to wonder why would a news agency do a story on that? To embarrass our team or our town?

Our society is obsessed with winning. Whatever it takes, you better win. Hollywood turns out tear jerker movies about the underdog that comes back to be victorious above all odds. In the real world, some teams lose. Not every underdog comes back.

Some of the background Yahoo Sports didn’t cover was that 2 years ago our girls basketball team went to state. They were very good. The next year was rocky. Now we have a new coach and smaller classes in the high school.

Our little school has had a tough year. We had to forfeit part of the varsity football season because we didn’t have enough players. There are some small classes in the high school right now. But the numbers start to grow quickly with the younger kids. It’s typical ebb and flow in a small school

I got a first hand view of how a game like that might feel on Saturday. I’m helping with Jenna’s fourth grade basketball team. These girls have worked so hard in practice and have improved so much. We played our first of two games on Saturday and got crushed. At half time the ref asked us if we wanted to shut off the scoreboard. The girls were getting frustrated, discouraged and tired. I found myself feeling the same way. I know it’s not the most important thing but I’d sure like to see them win!

So is it worthless? Should these girls keep showing up to practice and games? Should they even continue their losing season? Is it harder to easily win by thirty or keep playing your hardest when you know you probably can’t come back?

I wonder if the reporters were surprised with what they found in Wrenshall. Let me fill you in on a few things that Yahoo Sports does not know about us.

I bet they didn’t expect to find a coach like Michelle Blanchard, who continues to show up to practice and work with these girls. She talked honestly about the tough loss and moving on saying she doesn’t even look at the score, just the improvement of the girls.

They didn’t count on players that are keeping at it. They keep practicing, working hard and getting better.

They didn’t understand how supportive our tight-knit community is.

They don’t know that when I call because my kids are sick, the secretary knows who we are and what grade the kids are in.

When I pick my kids up from school, the superintendent is in the lobby greeting people.

When there is a schedule mix-up and two teams have practice at the same time with our limited gym space, we go half court and make it work.

When there is a concert, almost the whole town comes.

There are grandparents and community members that volunteer to read with kids.

There’s a community education director that puts in way more time than she’s paid for.

A teacher’s husband passed away and every teacher went to the funeral.

There’s always someone to chat with over coffee at the Brickyard.

The person who owns the One Stop gas station knows my name and where I live, and not in a creepy way.

Is winning the most important thing? Will the girls that had a winning season be better off in life than these girls? Not necessarily. How long will they play basketball? Maybe through college. Life and work is more about commitment, hard work and improvement than the glory of winning. There is pride in those things win or lose.

So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be the one wearing my orange and black Wrenshall shirt. I am proud of the varsity team and our fourth grade team. Win or lose, they are playing with heart. And if you read the yahoo stories and think we’re just a sorry little town, think again. There is more to the story.


Anonymous said...

I played basketball for a tiny Christian high school and a tiny Bible College; some years we were the best and some we weren't. The visiting teams coach showed poor sportsmanship. He should never have let his starters score 40 points in the first half. That's not good coaching.


Wayne Pederson said...

You'll never know how much that game has prepared those girls for the reality of life. There's lots of battles seemingly "lost" that end up making us God's winners. I'm proud of you!