The Value of Losing

I’m a huge believer in organized sports.

I’m also a huge believer in winning AND losing. (Gasp. Oh, no she didn’t just say that!) Oh yes. I most definitely did.

There is something so great about being on a team and going through the ups and downs of a sport season together. I’ve been on teams where we won a lot. I’ve also been on teams where we lost a lot. I can remember feeling pure excitement and pure disappointment all in one season. I can remember going into games or meets as the underdog. I also remember being favored to win a few times as well. I learned so many valuable things from playing sports. I learned how to lose, how to win, committment, social skills, respect, teamwork, leadership, and countless lessons about attitude. I learned what it’s like for everyone to have a role on a team. Because of sports I know what it feels like to have a group of people around you that are your constant supporters and encouragers. I also learned how to be those for other people.

This year I was given the opportunity to coach track at the middle school I work at. We went into the season as the clear underdogs. Calling us underdogs is probably even being generous. Basically we can’t compete in the conference we are in. We never won a meet. We only had 30 kids on our team when other schools had at least 50. In past years we’ve only had maybe 2 athletes qualify for the championship meet. We are the team you can put your last string in and probably still beat us.

Last night was the championship track meet. We had 8 kids there. We qualified for 4 relays and 1 non relay event, also known as an open event for you non track people out there. I was so proud of our kids for even making it to this meet. Last night I watched our kids as they were so excited and proud to have gotten to this meet. I overheard comments about how nervous they were. I watched as they competed and not do as well as we/they had hoped. I saw disappointment. I saw good sportsmanship. I watched them as they not only encouraged their own teammates but athletes on other teams as well. I watched them adapt to situations out of our control. I saw tears. I saw 6th graders step up and 8th graders lead well. I saw frustration. I saw pure competitiveness. I saw respect.

As I was driving home last night, I was thinking about how sad I was. Last night didn’t go the way we thought it would. If I’m being totally honest, I was a little disappointed. Not in our team but just in how we did. I felt disappointed for all the 8th graders, who this was their last meet. While I felt disappointment, I also felt so glad they had this experience. I’m so thankful they are learning how to be on a team. I’m thankful they are learning how to lose and how to be disappointed. I’m thankful they are learning how to be proud of themselves in the midst of disappointment. I’m thankful they are learning that things don’t always go as planned and how to adapt to changing situations.

I guess I’m kind of thankful they made it to the championship and lost. What a fabulous life lesson.

… Courtney


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