“You’re going to lose a lot. Learning how to deal with it is one of life’s greatest skills,” declared Ron Upshaw in yesterday’s KIRO Radio broadcast.
The eight-year-old Jr. Hawks had lost their hockey game 41-0.
We were once seven-and-eight-year-olds. We were underdogs then. We all were.
Then, five years ago, it was Tee-ball for little tykes.
Then, the soft-rubber oversized baseball sat on an adjustable stand, adjustable to account for the height of the small little fellow in his cute little uniform addressing the ball, a ball that doesn’t move, curve, or undulate, much less nail you in the rib cage.
Then, after whack after repeated whack of the bat with the goal to somehow eventually connect with the ball – or at least the stand – putting the ball in play – or close enough, it happened: the ball fell in front of the plate.
Then it was off to the races – hopefully toward first base – oftentimes accompanied by the coach running alongside offering encouragement.
But that was then, and this is now.
Now has apparently come the time when interest wanes in facing the wicked slider of the hard-throwing, side-arm sweeping, high-heat fastball delivering Felix-Hernandez-look-alike.
The team may have dispersed to other pursuits in life.
And if that’s true, that will be ok.
Even though that’s hard.
Because that’s life.
Where, in life, start-up is hard: remember those days – you were so few in number anybody who raised their hand there in that first-grade classroom was on the team?
In life, keeping up is harder: it was hard wasn’t it, those sweltering summer days when the swimming hole so strongly beckoned but it was also baseball practice and you showed up there on that hot, dry, dirty sweaty infield?
And in life, now perhaps, and one day eventually, it will be hard, in fact hardest of all, to give up, not give up in the negative sense of quitting but because rather something very precious has been taken from you, or you are giving up only because you have other dreams to pursue, other aspirations that tug at your heart, other goals, higher goals, to help you become all you can be.
And that will not only be ok, it will be admirable.
These last five years you stepped up – literally – to the plate. You swung for the fences. There on the baseball diamond you became one – a diamond, rough then, polished now.
Then you had an opportunity to learn what will be needed whatever you pursue: give it your best and, when you lose – and even lose big – don’t let losing define you. Learn, grow, determine that this only life you’ve been given will, if you have anything to say about it – and you do – will be everything it was intended to be.
Encourage those around you whose turn it is at the plate, the bases loaded, the game on the line, who – it they strike out – it won’t be because the bat never left their shoulder.
Getting on base – like advancing in your education, your career, your marriage – cannot be accomplished by just standing there.
Make the attempt. Take the initiative. Pursue with passion your dreams.
Then you, like us – parents and coaches and fans – will ‘play-it-forward’ and cherish the memories of a life well-lived.
This last link is to the first ever run scored in our so-many-highlights-history: