Cheers to Winning. See you in 2024...
It's amazing how many lessons I can take from my time spent as a mediocre college athlete . The practices, travel, time spent with teammates, my walks to the field, daily trips to the training room to ice down, lacing up to get that perfect uniform look, my many failures and fewer successes; all of these experiences prepared me for situations down the road that I did not see coming.
One of the most important lessons was never really a lesson at all.
It was the late 90's and I was a relief pitcher and somewhere late in the game me and another reliever would be sent to the bullpen to start warming up to close out the game or to get the current pitcher out of jam. However, sometimes we weren't used at all due to circumstances within the game. When that happened, our head coach, Paul Saikia, would give us a look, and he had the ability to freeze you in your tracks with just one look, then he would put his hand out, hold it waist high, and tilt his fingers up to show you his palm. That, my friends, was the sign to "Shut it down." When we saw 'the hand' we knew to immediately stop throwing, put our jackets on, and conserve our arms and energy. We didn't do anything wrong; it was simply strategy. We may be needed the next inning, or the next out, or not at all, but he wasn't going to waste one more pitch. It was understood and obeyed. We didn't have to like his decision, but we trusted him with our lives and our arms, and we knew he ALWAYS had the good of the team at the forefront of every decision. If he didn't think I was the right person for that particular out, then I wasn't, it was as simple as that. He knew my strengths and weaknesses better than I did. He also knew my track record and he judged by results, sometimes harsh, but always fair. Let me highlight that again so you don't miss it:
HE JUDGED BY RESULTS, SOMETIMES HARSH, BUT ALWAYS FAIR.
Fast Forward. I'm the coach now and have been for the past 20 years. I see the game in front of me, I've made every wrong move possible. I've won championships and been blown out (Escape to Lewes!). I know the situations, and the players. I have a track record. I understand what it takes to stay in the game, and I also know no matter what there will be times when you do everything right and you don't win. I've been celebrated and I've been vilified. I've hired with the highest of hopes, and I've had to make some really tough decisions. Throughout these past 20 years the goal has been the same. I truly believed every decision I've made was to get a little bit better. It's just that simple.
This December, I'm giving myself 'the look' and 'the hand' and I'm shutting it down for the holidays for some well needed rest and family time. The past year has been like no other. I won't bore you with the details or sleepless nights. I've discovered who we are and who we're not and what it's going to take to evolve in our ever-changing landscape of endurance sports. If you understand your personal evolution then you have the ability to be better than ever. The winners recognize this and are able to morph their intelligence, experience, and their lessons learned into the next win, the next championship, the next dynasty.
Cheers to Winning. See you in 2024.