Winning isn’t everything…granted it is awesome, no one will ever deny the powerful emotions that come with victory. But it is just one moment in time, one that is a simple reflection of everything that came before it and sets a course for greater victories to come. What made Thursday night’s State Football Championship win so sweet, isn’t just that it has been a long time in coming, but that it is also a reflection of what winning well looks like. It is a reflection of the countless hours and dedication of professionals, volunteers and support from the community to build a worthy program, instill a sense of dedication, hard work, and commitment to the sense of team. The deep Chieftain pride we feel doesn’t happen overnight and certainly doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I think we all know that. I think it is what makes our team and community different, and why every single individual in our town’s cup runneth over.
Winning well just looks different. It isn’t playing dirty, it isn’t focusing on just the top players, it isn’t rubbing the losers nose in defeat, arrogant peacocking, excusing bad behavior for the sake of a winning season, or giving up when facing challenging odds. Winning well is walking hand in hand onto the field as a unit, being introduced as a team and not individuals, giving back to the community by mentoring and instructing younger players and service to the needy. It is playing with integrity, truth and commitment to the rules of the game, with no need for taunting, cheap shots and blame for mistakes made, but the commitment to evolve in spite of setbacks to keep getting better as a team.
Winning well isn’t running up the score in a blow away game, but utilizing those moments to strengthen and develop younger players to further continuity and commitment to a strong future. Winning well takes coaches who devote time and effort well beyond their pay grade to bring the best out of their team. Winning well means cooperation and collaboration in a sport that often focuses the success or blame onto the shoulders of the head coach. Winning well also puts aside ego for the sake of utilizing all the talent offered and understanding that it takes more of a village to build a program than just one person.
Winning well is also rooted in those parents,coaches, teachers and mentors who embrace the responsibility to raise our athletes to put character before accolades and integrity on the same level as talent. Winning well is a ripping diatribe against the lack of these qualities in the NFL and other professional sports…to which our local athletes seem to possess in spades. It is because of our parents, coaches, teachers and mentors that our young athletes understand that the person defines the sport and not the other way around.
Winning well is also rooted in a deep and abiding faith…not because being faithful to God guarantees a win. It does mean, though, that a team who shares a faith in something greater than themselves has the freedom to act without fear, push with strength and force beyond their own ability and embrace any challenge with unity and love. They become a band of brothers that exemplify what winning should look like.
Winning well will define and set the pace for every future goal, be it to continue in sports, go to college, join the military or any other venture. Winning well and working hard will always be synonymous after this experience. It is what will continue to make our small community great and shine with Chieftain pride.