Friday, May 26, 2006

Always Next Year

The competitive season came to a halt yesterday, as the short one from the above picture didn't advance beyond sectionals. I couldn't be anymore proud of them, and think that they had a helluva season.

The three girls on the left are juniors, and the one on the right is a sophmore. So I'm pretty excited about next year, and expect big things out of them.

**best 'moment' of the day yesterday.... Jackie ( the short one ) and I were talking about expectations for this year, and next, when she asked me ( in complete seriousness ), if she was going to get a varsity letter. She broke the school record, and advanced to the meet before the state finals. Despite being the one that accomplished all that, she still wasn't convinced it was good enough to letter. I got a chuckle out of that one.**

But that question, combined with the thoughts taking an immediate turn to next year, sparked a bit of a debate between myself and the distance coach at the bar last night. He stated, and I do agree, that the vaulters had a great year. They got a new coach, a new system, and performed well. I won't disagree with that for a second.

So why do I still have a slight sting in my gut now that the competitive season is over? Why do I have to feel like I should say, "Yeah, they had a great year, BUT........"? I don't want to throw that extra word in there, except that's what it feels like. And I don't like that.

At what point can you truly be happy with sports performance? She qualified for sectionals, and came a helluva lot closer to qualifying for state that I would have put money on that morning. I do believe in my heart that we had a good season. BUT...........

And that's what I hate about sports. It's never good enough. Hundreds upon hundreds of vaulters in the state, but only one can win the state championship. Would I have been thrilled if she made it to state? Hell yeah. But I don't like the idea that even if she made it to state, anything short of a championship would have resulted in the same feeling in my gut.

But it's not just pole vaulting. Every sport I've been around makes me feel like that. And not just competition. It's never good enough in practice. Lombardi had the quote about perfection - something to the effect of 'you'll never reach perfection, you can only strive for it'. ( I'm sure Nort will post the actual quote - I'm too lazy to go look it up. ) And that's a brutal lesson in life. That sucks. It sucks that I can't just appreciate how they did this year, without thinking of what else I could have done, or how I could have prepared them better.

Sports can teach you every lesson you need in life - that's one of the thousands of reasons that makes sports great. All the cliche ones; teamwork, hard work, sportsmanship, handling change - all lessons that can be used outside of the arena. And this one is no exception. It's never good enough, because you're only as good as your next performance. You're only as good as that next project you finish, or the next sale you close, or the next surgery you perform.

It's probably best they don't lay that one out on the kids when their young. That's a pretty harsh reality to have to face. And it's one, at least for a couple of days, that I'm not to happy to deal with.

But at the same time, I loved every minute of this year, and am SO looking forward to next year. I do have high expectations for them next year - and yes, I do realize that no matter what the expectations for next year are, there's a pretty good chance I'll feel like this next June. So I'm going to go bang my head against the wall for a little while. ;)


At 12:23 PM, Blogger ptg said...

You're only as good as the next season you coach, eh?

Then why do we all talk about previous seasons, previous girlfriends or boyfriends, previous sports, previous escapades, etc?

I think it has to do with the fact that we set up our own expectations for ourselves and others, and then, when they are not met, we're stuck with having to concede to the fact we didn't meet them. Once we realize how close we are to being *great* and we don't make it, it's that much harder to fall.

Past performances are the only thing that keeps us going -- either you want to be better than you were, or you want to maintain that level.

And yea, if we ever told kids that -- shit. There goes a happy childhood.


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