Go Big or Go Home
It was 1998 and I was coaching my girls under sixteen soccer team in the Capital Area Youth Soccer Tournament semi-finals. We were down two scores when the halftime whistle blew. Every girl looked dejected when they came to the sidelines. Heads were down and hearts were broken.
We were a young team. The core group of my girls were younger than sixteen, our team had played up an age division that season. Now as the scoreboard seemed to loom, each of them were feeling the age difference and looking way out of their element. I never will forget the look they had in their eyes and just how sad and broken each of them looked.
I am a fiery personality. Bet you couldn’t tell that from how I write right? Well this fiery coach was also feeling a bit dejected but not because of the score but because I knew that these girls had one shot; one half to make a difference that could and would forever impact their little lives and their individual self-confidence forever. And it was my job as their coach to not make it easy for them to give up on themselves. So I didn’t.
I pulled the girls together and I asked each of them to look at me. Look in my eyes. Did they see my fire? Did they see my passion? Did they see my pride? Did they feel it? Did they understand? Could they appreciate that they were the reason that it was there. I had coached a lot of soccer teams but none that had showed the heart and determination these young ladies had showed. I smiled big and for the first time, probably spoke much softer and with more caring than the girls were accustomed to seeing in one of Harp’s halftime sermons.
We didn’t belong in that tournament. No one gave us a shot at the beginning of the season. We were nobodies but through the course of the season we became somebodies. We did that. We shocked the world (or at least our little soccer community) because we never gave up and we believed in ourselves….when no one else would. I reminded the girls of all that they had accomplished and that they did it all as a team.
I asked one simple question. Were we going to let the other team take that from us? Were we really prepared to say, “Oh ya’ll were right, we don’t belong. You just need to look at the score to see that.”
That got a laugh. Then two. Then my motley crew of young girls were all laughing.
Surrender? No way!
I then settled them down as the referee’s whistle went off to call the teams back onto the field. A noticeable calmness settled over all of us and I said, “Ladies we either go big or go home! It’s your choice but each of you have to make it. Oh and ladies, its alright to go home but going out big, regardless of whether we win or lose, is so much more fun don’t you think?”
That was the loudest team cheer we probably ever did. Loud enough to announce to the other team we weren’t going away. No far from it.
We won that game in a shootout. To this day likely one of the greatest games I have ever been a part of.
Why do I share this with you? Because the statement is true and is particularly relevant as each of us as we face whatever it is we are facing.
The whistle is going off and it’s time to start the next half of your life. Are you ready?