“Losers complain that they are doing as well as everyone else. Winners do what they can to make themselves better,” Coach shouted as we took groundballs during a frost bitten January as we prepared for the upcoming baseball season. Our team was strong and we had as much talent as anyone. We practiced listening to Coach Hendricks reiterating what it takes to be a winner and how a winner differs from a loser.
Our season started in April with a loss. And another. And another. Despite being friends off the field, when we were on the field we tried to be the best player there, even if it meant chastising a teammate just to raise ourselves over others.
After ten games, we had a pitiful record, but off the field we acted as if we were undefeated. Excuses were found as often as errors. Finally, after a disgusting loss, Coach Hendricks asked, “Why did we loose that game?” Stepping up, a player, in a sarcastic voice, replied, “I don’t know, maybe some of us just aren’t very good.” Coach’s infuriated reaction caught us offgaurd: “Stop being a bunch of smart asses and cut the crap. Baseball is a team sport. You can’t play every position or bat every time. You can’t be the team. Either learn to play as a team or quit. I’m not going to coach losers. I’ll see you tomorrow, if you want to play.”
All of us left that field in silence, reflecting what Coach had said. The next morning everyone showed up with a new mindset. We came out to the field, not to win but to show Coach that we could work as a team.
That day, on that field, we transformed. We worked together and combined our strengths to win. As we left the field, Coach’s broad smile hid his young facial features and the only words he spoke rang in my head: “And now you boys are a team.”
Out transformation sent us on a winning streak. We turned our horrible start into a superior season, winning over seventy percent of our games. However, after five months our season came to an end. We all met one last time and watched a recap of our season that made our eyes swell with tears. Coach stepped in front of us and, despite his emotions, his warm smile gleamed off his face, “Well boys, this year was full of excitement. But most of all, you guys taught yourselves a very important lesson. Teamwork. You learned that, despite how much talent you as individuals possess, the talent you produce as a team outweighs individual talent by far. As individuals you were an easy opponent, but once you bonded as a team, you were invincible. I will end the season by saying that a loser laughs at one who falls, a winner picks up the fallen and encourages him on.”
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