Every so often in this line of work, you get to stand on the sidelines (or in this case, in the dugout) and watch while something spectacular happens. This spring, I have been honored to stand in the dugout, behind the plate and at the baselines as a dozen young women taught this community a lesson about the kinds of things we can accomplish if we stand together, do what we do best and let our egos take a backseat to bigger goals.
My first and foremost goal this week is to offer hearty congratulations and heartfelt thanks to the Lady Lions varsity softball program. It was a true pleasure and a great honor to stand in the background and watch this amazing group of young ladies work hard, play hard and to watch the outcome of those efforts. Knowing that their season is over genuinely does bring a tear to my eye.
I’m occasionally asked if I like sports, and as a general rule, the answer to that question is “no.” However, I’ve been a softball and baseball fan from way back. I like to say, “I don’t really follow any sports, but if you put me in front of a game where people are swinging bats and running bases, I’m going to enjoy it.”
And this season of Lady Lion softball was no exception to that. I’m sorry to see it end.
But if it had to end, and if it had to end with our Lady Lions taking a loss, I’m glad that our girls could end the season the way they did – with their heads held high, with every reason in the world to be proud of themselves, and in a game that, by all rights, should have been the state championship game.
I heard many people say over the weekend that it’s a shame that Lockhart and Smithson Valley had to face off in the Quarterfinals, because both teams had truly earned the right to go all the way; both teams could probably have taken down anyone else in the lineup, and only faced a true challenge from one another.
That being said, this weekend’s game posed some unique challenges, both from the weather and from the opposing team’s side of the stadium. At every turn, those challenges served to break up the Lady Lions’ momentum, and without those challenges, there is no question in my mind that our Lady Lions would have laid the Rangers flat.
The spectacular thing to watch, though, is how our Lady Lions handled those challenges. There was no bitterness (at least none that they showed publicly); there was no anger, no rudeness. Those challenges, they faced down and worked through with grace, class and honor – an attitude that I’m sad to say there are plenty of adults in our community could stand to learn from.
I was, and remain, proud of the Lady Lions’ skills. We’ve got a group of incredibly talented athletes occupying our softball fields, ladies and gentlemen, and if you missed them this season, you missed a lot.
What’s more, we have a group of incredibly classy athletes on our softball fields; these girls are sportsmanlike in their own conduct on the field and in the dugout. They have classy coaches and honorable team leaders. If they were going to win on Saturday, they were going to win with their talent. If they had to lose, they lost with their dignity firmly intact.
Every team in Central Texas should be so lucky.
We have a lot to learn from the Lady Lions. Each member of that team has a job to do. She knows her job, she’s good at her job, and she tries to do her job well. And every other member of the team supports her in doing that job, congratulates her for doing that job well, forgives her for mistakes, and backs her up in an effort to accomplish the team goal.
If the team falls short of that goal, there is no bitterness, no resentment, no hostility and no blame. At least, if there is any negativity among them, they are careful not to let that be seen in the public eye. They may air their dirty laundry in the locker room – I don’t know. But that’s the beauty of it. The people on the “outside” don’t get to see it; we don’t need to see it.
I am endlessly impressed with Coach Snell, Coach Cox and Coach Ramirez, whose leadership on the field stands in stark contrast to some other coaches I’ve seen this season. They, like their team, seemed to want to obtain victory through honor and talent, rather than by bully tactics. They wanted to win with bats and balls instead of accusations and arguments. They wanted to do it with respect – not only for others, but with respect for themselves.
That attitude trickled down through the entire team; it’s an attitude I suspect was always present in the heart of every member of the team.
As adults, we often think it’s our job to teach our children. In this case, though, I think we should let our children teach us. Look at the heights this team reached; look how far they went when they did their jobs, supported their teammates in doing those jobs, and kept ego, anger and infighting out of the equation (or in private, where it belongs).
Imagine the heights we could reach, as a community, if we would do the same.