Sunday, March 20, 2011

The thrill of FINALLY a victory...ends the agony of defeat.


Of all the various teams in the realm of sports, not many actually have the opportunity to claim that title.

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the State Girls Basketball championship game. My hometown Cardinals were poised to take home some hefty hardware.

And they did.

Of course great joy and celebration ensued at the sound of the final buzzer.

But for a select group of women in those stands or watching at home, there was a huge sense of relief.

For a moment, I think we all let out a sigh and muttered under our breath, "FINALLY."

You see, twenty years ago an assembly of teenage girls laced up their hightops and ran onto the civic center floor in hopes of attaining that coveted championship, too.

But we failed miserably.

No seriously. It was the largest point spread in state basketball history.

Humiliating. We, in a word, choked.

Fast forward to last night - and sure, I'll be the first one to admit we were living vicariously through this incredible team of athletes - and we were redeemed.

As badly as we wanted that championship trophy 20 years ago, before us was a team that would finally snatch it up.

And the comment I made to the coach after the game was, "Thank you for finishing it for us."  He understood because he was the first coach to lead us to a championship. When we were mere 12-year-olds, he taught us the fundamentals of the game, and we learned what it meant to become a team. We won our 7th Grade Tourney under his direction, and thus began the hopeful dreams of one day getting to the state championship game.

So we did it. But like I mentioned, it wasn't pretty.

For twenty years we've heard,"Oh, yeah, you're the team that got killed in the championship game." But that's okay. Let's face it, it's accurate.

It's nice to know after last night a new legacy has begun.

It's highly enjoyable to get caught up in the big game...cheering and laughing and fretting and hoping. They're kids. There's lots of energy. It's fun.

But we understand what they don't yet - that this game isn't everything.

That the pleasure of the game will fade with time, the trophy will get tossed into a box and forgotten, and that newly embroidered "State Champs" jacket will eventually wind up in the back of the closet next to their graduation gown and old prom dress.

That all the excitement, the fun, the achievement...will pale in comparison to one day watching their own daughter play the game, or get that A in algebra, or recover from a surgery, or - gasp - walk down the wedding aisle.

While I loved playing the game, and loved my teammates, what I find even better is peering into small snippets of their lives of today.

Today we're moms, we're career women, we're homemakers and wives. We're tough as nails but soft as teddy bears.

We know the value of hard work. The value of sacrifice. And the value of a TEAM.

Because once you're a part of that, it's something that never leaves you. It's what defines a champion, whether you have the shiny medal or not.

So congratulations, Lady Cards. Victory is sweet. But the journey ahead of you is even sweeter.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Don't Worry. Be Happy. (And yes, you'll be whistling that tune all day now. You're welcome.)

A recent Gallup poll found that my home state ranks #3 in the nation for the highest degree of well-being. (FYI - Hawaii came in #1 and Wyoming was #2).

The poll takers claim that well-being is measured by everything from being happy to exercising enough to having affordable housing.I've got a new one for ya, Gallup peeps. How about 'understanding and forgiveness'?

Within the past couple of months, I have made two - well, let's call them glitches - in my freelance work. One was a photo I took that actually wasn't what I thought it was even though it was published as such.


Of course I felt like a heel and apologized profusely. But the person who called my attention to the error - a reader (yikes!) - simply responded with, "Don't feel bad. Last week the TV station was out here and took video of the wrong thing too."

Whew. It did make me feel better, but I still had an editor to suck up to in hopes of not being black-listed.

But you know what? A week later he sent me another assignment. Now he may have been secretly trying to punish me because the deadline was super tight, but honestly - the guy could have said, "Have this to me in 15 minutes complete with charts and graphs" and I would said, "Yes, sir. No problem!" and had it to him in TEN minutes.

I think I'm back in his good graces now. Dodged a bullet there.

Or maybe there was no bullet.

Because this past week I goofed on a statistic in a story I wrote for someone else. Fortunately it hadn't published yet - it was caught in the midst of gaining approval from the client.

But it was one of those "Duh, of course that's wrong now that I read it again" mistakes.

I figured I was doomed.

But again, I was given more grace with "Don't worry! I did the same thing once..."

Wow. I was relieved for sure, but more than that I was so grateful.

Grateful for people that don't come unglued at every little mistake.

Grateful that I don't need to beat myself up over imperfections now and then.

And grateful I wasn't still in one of my former jobs where simple slip-ups like this would have resulted in verbal lashing from the company VP.

Yes, I had that boss once. The guy who is more interested in placing blame on someone than just fixing the problem.

He was brutal. I often asked myself what kind of person finds such joy in nailing someone to the wall when they could just say, "Don't worry about it. These things happen. We'll make the correction."

I wasn't in my home state then.

I was working in a state that ranked #29 in that aforementioned poll, by the way. So they must have polled at least a few of my former co-workers!! HA!

But truly, there is something to be said for a little empathy in the midst of overflowing in-boxes, impending deadlines and a typo here and there.

I know it sure made me happy. A top-of-the-charts happy, in fact.

(But I'd still take a trip to Hawaii.)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

If Women Had Invented Basketball

Had women invented the game of basketball, a losing team would never feel hopeless for a comeback.

As a good fan does, I carted my three children over to a church league basketball tournament to watch my husband's team fight for victory against a team that - well, let's just say when the ball hit their hands it apparently had some magnetic force pulling it to the net...they just didn't miss a bucket!

It wasn't long and we could tell our team was in trouble. It was then that my fellow fans - wives, mothers and girlfriends - began to acknowledge the tremendous skill and agility of our players.

"We should get points for outrageous moves and wildy competitive efforts," I say.

The girls and I were all in agreement. We began compiling a mental list as the game continued.

One of our youngest players - an athletic college student from the local university powers his way down the court to attempt a layup, only to do a slider, curvy-type move thing that instead of gaining him a bucket - it resulted in the opposing player tossing him into the wall.

My motherly instinct kicked in and I couldn't help myself - I yelled, "He's on scholarship! Don't hurt the boy!!!"

And then my mind shifted. I declared to my girl posse, "He should get points for that!"

Naturally, they all agreed.

Another one of our players hopped through the lane like a rabbit when the ball was stripped from his hands in an vigilant move to the basket.

Impersonating any small rodent: easily 3 points.

The one that really got us gals fired up was a last-second shot my own husband launched from beyond the half line...and it went in!!

But the darn buzzer had already gone off so it didn't count.


Wildly exciting shots originating from the opposite side of the court that go in - regardless of timing: 10 points.

The guy with the incredible vertical jump who slaps the backboard as he attempts to block a shot: 6 points. (Let's face it - we all wish we could do it, so maybe it should even be worth more. Put it in the category of : very few people can actually do that and the fans love it: 15 points.)

And frankly, we're women. We're not just watching for hoops, we're observing the attire, too. Sometimes this type of league play means a team just picks a color and they all throw on t-shirt. The opposing team today chose blue - but every blue was a different shade. Not cool, boys. Not cool. Clashing will not earn you a single point.

Now, on the other end of the our team in identical yellow t-shirts complete with names and numbers. Let's put that at another 3 points.

And when they're clever enough to pair it with black shorts to match the lettering - this is off-the-charts good for a guy. You just earned 2 more points per player.

But we're female - and we love shoes.

So rack up some points for color-coordinated shoes: another 2 points per player.

But we're not always about matchy-matchy, either. Sometimes a schnazzy pair of shoes can turn a mediocre player into greatness, just by sheer fashion sense. So shoes that catch our eye and make us say, "oooh!": 3 points per player.

I'm simply giving points where points are due: entertainment.

After all, that's the whole reason to attend these games. When you're getting beat by 26 points, you have to look a little deeper for the entertainment value.

Had the 'new' rules been in place, it may have been a very close game that we likely would have won. (Our guys have some pretty unique moves! Did I mention the rabbit?)

But I'm optimistic. I was sitting next to the league organizer's wife, and she was completely on board with the new scoring system.

So don't fret over defeat today. Mr. League Organizer will likely have to apologize to his bride someday soon for not taking out the garbarge or leaving his socks on the floor, and she'll tell him how to make it up to her.

Then victory will never be impossible. Just remember to wear black shorts.