This past weekend my daughter’s select team had their end-of-season awards banquet. It was a hard-fought season, and the team ended up second-to-last in the team rankings. Many of the parents seemed a bit put-off by the results (the team only won one match all season) even though the girls themselves learned a lot, grew immensely as individual and team players, and most importantly, had fun in the process.
After the final match, I felt inspired to give a speech at the banquet. This season I was a mere spectator-parent. But I could feel the frustration of some of those around me who watched helplessly from the sidelines. I wrote a short speech to present not only for the benefit of the girls on the team, but also for the parents. I was hoping to inspire a positive outlook on the season and to motivate them to have their girls sign up for the club again next season.
I don’t know if the words I conveyed in the speech will do any good (I guess we’ll find out at spring tryouts). But the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive, and I can only hope they stay in people’s minds over the next few months and keep them in mind when it’s time for them to pick a club to enroll in when the time comes back around.
Incidentally, I was able to compare the team with some of the struggles felt by the Seattle Reign FC last season – I wanted to convey to the girls and to the parents that even the best players in the world can experience and overcome disappointment.
So this month I would like to share with you the words I provided to my daughter’s team and the parents. I hope you find them to be motivational and inspirational as well…
This season of the Fire Juniors Red has reminded me in many ways of a specific professional soccer team – the NWSL’s Seattle Reign FC. For those who may not know, the NWSL is the National Women’s pro Soccer League and 2013 was also its inaugural season. The Seattle Reign FC is our local franchise in that league. I had the honor of being able to volunteer with the Seattle Reign throughout this past summer, so I had a little bit of a unique perspective of that team.
So how has this Fire team reminded me of the Seattle Reign? Well, the Seattle Reign struggled during their season, just as ours did. At the end their record was 5-14-3. And they ended up second to last in the league. I’m guessing that might seem a little bit familiar. They ended up with that record despite having some of the best female soccer players in the world on that team. Players such as Stephanie Cox…Megan Rapinoe…and someone you may have heard of, Hope Solo.
But this Fire Juniors Red team has reminded me of the Seattle Reign in other ways as well. The losses never got the players, coaches, or owners down. They all brushed themselves off and looked to the next match. They maintained positive spirits. They trained hard and played hard. And they persevered. And despite the losses, you could always tell the players had fun.
You see, victories aren’t always measured in wins. For example…A victory could be how Kyleen sprinted ahead and won the ball from an opponent. Or how Megan dove to save a goal at the last moment. Or how Jenae stepped up to be a strong goalie when the opportunity presented itself. Or how Trinity, Syerra, Paige and a handful of others here transitioned from a small school rec league to a much higher level of play none of them were used to.
This season is over and maybe some of you might be considering other clubs next season. But I do ask us all to keep in mind that not victories are wins on the pitch. I know that in the Seattle Reign Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and several others are returning to once again play hard and help the club grow.
And that being said, I know Trinity will be back next year – and I sincerely hope to see you all here as well.
I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday, and I’ll catch you in 2014!
~ E.S.Brown is an aspiring author whose debut novel is due in 2014. He divides his time between his day job, his family, his writing, and being a soccer parent.