What makes a champion?

On the sidelines of the soccer field at the state soccer tournament, one of the tournament staff commented, “I really love your players.” It’s no doubt that he has been around countless teams and players over the years in his position, so what did he see that stood out about our players in particular? From watching the team this year myself, there have been two things that stood out to me that contributed to their success—the team was faithful and the team was inclusive. Whether the stranger on the sidelines saw these specific characteristics or not we will never know, however we can bet that he didn’t “love” our players just because of their amazing soccer skills; it was something else he witnessed that was deeper—something he saw in the connection and spirit of the team.

 

Faithfulness: Of the seniors on the team, four of them had been on the team for all four years of high school. Coach Grimm shared a story at the athletic celebration banquet about a senior and team captain, Fernando Lopez, who nearly quit after they were beat in their first game of their freshman year. Fernando didn’t want to lose and thought it would be better to quit than push through the humiliation of losing. But after a heart-to-heart conversation with Grimm, Fernando decided to stick with it and be committed to his growth and the growth of his team. Four years later, that commitment is what helped Fernando lead his team to a state championship title, and that conversation cultivated a spirit of humility in Fernando.

 

“I think what made us successful was being able to be coached and taking criticism the right way so that we could do a better job the next time,” Fernando said. The senior class was a group of young men who have worked hard to stay with the team and were committed to the process of growing!

 

Inclusivity: This year, the team had the opportunity to welcome three players from Touchet (a high school 20 miles away, and major basketball rival) and three players from Jubilee Leadership Academy to their Prescott high school team. It would have been easy to treat the new players as “less than” or “other” in an effort to keep what is familiar and preserving a “Prescott clique.” The Prescott players could have chosen to ostracize the new players out of fear for losing their own personal playing time and not being as good as the players. But, instead, they chose to welcome and embrace their new teammates, seeing them as assets instead of threats. This decision to include made the team much stronger, and the presence of these new faces helped strengthen the team so they had the man power to win.

 

“We always knew that we had each other’s back and no matter what the score was at the end of the game, we would remain brothers,” player Fernando said.

 

Without the presence of the new players, the outcome of the season could have been very different. If we can learn from the example of these young men and see people–even if they are new and different than what is familiar–as an asset to our “team” instead of rivals who we are competing against, then the world will be a better place.

 

Congratulations, Prescott Tigers! 2018 Washington State Champions

 

 

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