“Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel.” – Napoleon Hill
What if before this game, you lost all the other games you played, in a similarly lopsided fashion. Would that make you want to quit even more?
What if you were ten or eleven years old, and entrenched in this cycle of losing. Wouldn’t you really want to quit?
I’m an assistant coach with this team I describe. If these kids did not want to give up, well, I sure did. It’s actually quite easy to recall all the negative dialogue running through my head during that game:
Man, these kids can’t play at all.
Will anybody swing the bat tonight?
Why are we doing this?
Just play out the string. Just let them play, and in a month, it will be all over.
Nice thoughts for a coach to be having, huh? I was one of the guys supposed be building these kids up, instilling some confidence, letting them know that whatever the challenge, they could overcome. Instead, I’m pacing on the field, looking at the scoreboard, having my own private pity party. But something happened on the way to another beatdown on the baseball diamond.
These kids taught me a lesson. They took me to school.
“When life knocks you down, you have two choices -stay down or get up.”
To give you a synopsis of what turned out to be (even on a Little League level) an epic game, that eleven run lead eventually shrank down to size. With a couple of nice hits, some timely pitching, and our batters being selective in the box when the other team’s pitching went cold, the outcome of the game was anything but decided.
When it was decided, it was a dramatic finish with a play at the plate in our team’s last at bat with two outs.
In that last at bat, with the two outs, our team was still three runs behind. I still thought, even with this very emphatic show of persistence, there was no way they could come all the way back.
Final score 12-11. We win.
I don’t know what caused this monumental spark, a fire lit underneath these kids. But it was sudden. Players that seemed disinterested, even half asleep, began to play in fast forward. And once they got it going, everything snowballed. Still on the short end of the score, you knew which team had the all important momentum.
I think the reaction of most adults faced with such a steep uphill climb would be to pack it up and get ready for another day. But they didn’t. This team displayed a boatload of heart and character.
I was happy for the kids that they got the win. I was proud of the way they kept grinding it out, giving their maximum effort with every at bat, and doing their best in the field.
But, more than that, I was grateful for their gentle reminder that for most situations in life, persistence is everything. It is a reminder that I need more often than not, when you feel like giving it up, it makes more sense to just keep going.
Thanks to a Little League team that didn’t quit, I re-learned once of the most basic old school lessons. Persist. Always be moving forward.
Never. Say. Die.