Tracks of Our Tears

I had been coaching basketball for five years before it happened, and until it hit me, I didn’t think it would.  We had a great year.  District champs.  24-5.  Lost a regional semi-final by three at home.  I made it through the handshake line and Hixenbaugh’s post game speech.  Hix was choked up for sure and a few of the players.  Word was the headmaster teared up in the bleachers.  I was ok, until the guys started to leave the locker room.  I looked at Eric Dietrich, eyes red, as he approached and words failed.  I choked up, hugged him and felt the tracks of my tears run down the side of my face. 

Some feel that tears in the locker room are tears of regret for not putting enough effort on the floor during the game.  And some, myself included, have used the tears of others as motivation for my team in district or regional play….to make the other team cry cause there season is over. 

Fact is only a few special teams finish their season in a winning locker room.  The rest lose and it’s just a matter of when and how.  The when and how is critical.  I didn’t cry during my first four years in coaching….why?  My first season we were a special team…undefeated.   The other three seasons ended with losses, and in some way each of those teams were dysfunctional,  flawed and regretful in the manner in which they competed and lost.

That fifth year we competed like lions with pride and balls, and we did it together.  We regretted losing, but not who we were as men and as a team.  That couldn’t be touched or tarnished by the result of a single game, and it couldn’t be summed up in words after that game at the end of that journey only in the involuntary tears that fell from our eyes.

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