One of the biggest things that make me “me” has to be sports. I grew up playing all kinds of sports: gymnastics, golf, baseball, soccer, basketball, swimming, and I guess the one that stuck was soccer. I have played soccer since I was five years old. My coaches taught me structure and discipline while always encouraging me to give my best, no matter the circumstance.
Last week someone asked me, "What is your favourite sports memory, EVER?" I told them that a couple years ago, my team and I went to a soccer tournament in New Hampshire to compete against the best teams in the state. The first day we played, we went undefeated and made it in the finals. In the finals it was SUCH a close game. They scored, then we scored….1-1, then they made another goal, and then, with less than one minute left, we scored an incredible goal to tie up the game, leaving it 2-2. So then we went into overtime… no goal was made.... So double overtime… no goal scored STILL. So we went into shootouts. Every player scored in the first round of shutouts – not a single player missed! Then we went on to the second round of shootouts – tensions were high, and the pressure was on. Their first player makes the shot; then my first teammate goes up to shoot… and barely misses over the crossbar. We lose. My whole team was devastated, and we ended in second place.
Why did I tell you this story? Because I was shocked when I realized my favourite story ever ended in a loss. I am not telling you that winning isn't everything because it would have been even more exciting if we had won that game. But that story is my favourite memory because it was one of the best games my team had ever played then. We all worked together, and everyone was laser focused. It brought my team that much closer together. Everyone was so impressed with themselves and loving every second of it, mainly because we didn't think we had a shot at going far in the tournament, thinking we were going to get crushed in the first game. And then to end up in the finals, playing for first place! Years later, I don't remember the loss; I only think of the good times I had with my team and all the accomplishments that came out of it.
The victory should be about how well you play the game, and during that day my whole team exceeded every bit of potential we thought we had. We surprised even ourselves on how well we worked together. We felt that sense of accomplishment just being there to and playing against a team we knew was much better than us on paper. This made the hard-fought battle OUR victory. I learned that day that something hard-earned is more of an accomplishment than choosing the easy way out. I learned that losing a hard-fought battle is much more satisfying than winning an easy victory. We have all heard people say, “Winning isn't everything,” and for me, that day, that was my moment. I hope one day you get to have that moment too.