I watched an amazing thing happen this weekend. My daughter’s speech and debate team won 2nd place in Division 1 for the State! It was remarkable as this is a high school with only 270 kids beating all the other schools that are many times bigger. In this intellectual sport, numbers do count. But it wasn’t the win that teared me up. It wasn’t even the fact that my daughter and her speech partner won first place in their event…though that was a very big celebration.
What was really fantastic? The Coaching.
It started years ago when the middle school coach inspired the kids to try something they didn’t understand (this is not an easy “sport”). Coach Joyce engaged these kids and took them to nationals so they could imagine their future. The Head Master of our school, Andy Rodan, has been all in with funding. He ensures we have the coaching chops and provides the team with the same respect our winning swimming and soccer teams receive.
But here is where it all came together. Speech and debate Head Coach Klemp and his coaching team set the tone when he got our small school in Division 1 this year. He believed, so they believed. He shared his vision a week before the state finals that this was important and that the team was ready. Before the competition started, Coach Klemp shared his gratitude to the seniors for their leadership. He told them how they would be missed. He spoke about the commitment and effort each team member had made. He talked about the fact that they were here to compete and show the world that they had what it takes. He was emotional and the kids felt his pride, his requirement to play all in, and his commitment to each of them.
This is what sports are about. They teach us responsibility. They show us how to lead or how not to.
But most of all, great coaches help us define our character: who we want to be when we win and when we lose.
Next year…this team will take #1! We have the momentum. The talent. The leadership. The coaching and the mental chops to show the world it’s our turn. And regardless, win or lose, it will be another year that this fantastic coaching team helps each team member define their character as our character is defined by our humility in victory and our graciousness in defeat—a lesson worth learning and remembering, regardless of age!