Aw man, I know it stings.
There are a million things that people like me, old people, will say to you.
You played your hearts out.
Making it this far was amazing.
You left everything on the field.
You should be proud.
And, of course…
We are so proud of you.
And guess what?
All that is true.
Absolutely, 100 percent true.
But there is one thing that may be said to you, that I want you to reject (and, man, am I going to get in trouble for this one, but I’m going to say it anyway.) And I mean it.
No. It wasn’t.
No. It isn’t.
Don’t listen to that.
I mean, don’t tell your Grandma to eat her words or anything.
But here’s the thing.
Anything you have ever done, and anything you ever do, or loved or cared about or thought about can come down to a ‘just’, if you let it.
It’s just a test.
It’s just a dog.
It’s just your first girlfriend, or boyfriend…
or husband, or wife.
It’s just a job.
Or a career.
Or it’s just… life.
‘Just’ is an easy word to use when things get hard. We want to ‘get over it’, to dismiss disappointment, or pain. But if we do that, if we ignore or shrug off the tough stuff in our lives too soon, or try to convince ourselves that our letdowns don’t matter because there are so many other things that are worse, we are missing some massive opportunities to grow.
Listen to me. Remember, I’m old.
Just means ‘only’, or ‘simply’.
And there is nothing simple about anything you are willing to lay it on the line for.
Perspective is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. Losing a game isn’t the same as a death, or war, or famine. And, okay, it probably isn’t the worst thing that is ever going to happen to you.
But it’s not an ‘only’.
And it’s certainly not ‘simple’.
This season was about big things.
This is huge life stuff, I’m telling you.
You learned to trust each other.
To work with each other.
And for each other.
It was about love, too.
It was about being more comfortable sharing the spotlight, than stealing the spotlight.
And, at the same time, it was about allowing others to shine, and celebrating them with all your heart.
It was about becoming a team.
And last night, when the final whistle blew, and the big game didn’t turn out in your favor?
I saw you, the boys who started the season, behave like the upstanding young men you now are.
And I caught glimpses of the grown men you will become.
I watched some of you offering your hands to lift someone up, and others accepting that help.
Both of those acts – the giving, and the accepting of help and support – will be important in your lives
I watched hugs of consolation, and appreciation of your teammates, and your friends.
I saw you congratulate your opponents with grace.
And then you did something that you had done after every game, all season. This act was so often filled with smiles and laughter and whooping and goofing around, and almost always followed a ‘win’.
But last night?
Last night, after the whistle blew, and the other team celebrated and the trophies were handed out, and everyone would have understood if you just grabbed your gear and headed for the bus?
You lined up, every one of you, whether you played in the game or not.
You looked at each other.
And you ran across the field toward your parents, your fellow students, and your fans.
Thanking us for being there with you, for one of those memories of a lifetime.
A trip to State.
You guys owned it.
There is nothing ‘simple’ or ‘only’ or ‘just’, about any of that.
Thank you boys.
Thanks for readin’.
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