This I Believe

Alex - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 17, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Work Hard, Never Quit

I believe that “the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” This quote from the famous football coach Vince Lombardi plays a very important role in my life.

Breathe in, breathe out. I was exhausted, just like everyone else, as I tried to pull my worn-out body up one more set of stadium bleachers. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. “I cannot believe this,” I thought. “What have I gotten myself into?” It was the first day of summer conditioning for the girls who wanted to try out for the high school volleyball team. The new coach had arrived and everyone’s jaws dropped when she introduced herself as an ex-firefighter and an ex-marine. She had us all working our tails off on the first day, and one girl, bless her heart, even passed out. I could not imagine what this lady was going to do to us as the summer progressed.

After pushing the negative thoughts out of my head, the day of conditioning was over and everyone gathered around the coach to hear her words of encouragement. She was very pleased with our performance and gave us an uplifting speech, a speech that completely changed my perspective of her. She told us that whoever made the team would be pushed hard, hard enough to never want to see a volleyball again. She saw our frightened faces, and to reassure us, she presented us with Vince Lombardi’s quote, one that I always try to remember when I am going through difficult situations and I just want to give up. “I know you all will work hard,” she said, “but the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” Wow, I thought. I guess this will all be worth it in the end.

When tryouts came and I ended up making the varsity team, I was leaping for joy internally, but at the same time my stomach dropped. I would be in the hands of the toughest coach and she could do with me whatever she wanted. At practices, I would drop a ball…“Run a suicide!” I would not throw myself on the ground…“Twenty push-ups!” I would make an attack…“Swing harder!” The consequences seemed never-ending, but that quote running through my head seemed never-ending as well. And it proved to be true. At the matches, we were usually the team who was the most prepared—physically and mentally.

Even though it was a tough year, I greatly appreciated the lesson I learned from Coach, the lesson of not giving up when situations get difficult. I will carry this concept of being a mentally-tough individual who works hard so that I can have the strength to not give up. Through my experience, I became not only a stronger athlete but also a stronger child of this world. I will definitely come back next season.