Winter Blast Champions

Winter Blast 2016 Champs

We all piled into the minivan a bit later than normal. This time around we got a bit of a reprieve. Instead of starting before the sun came up, this soccer tournament Sunday would start closer to high noon. We just had to get there.

An hour or so later, we pulled up to the high school gym where for the next 4 hours our two teams of third and fourth grade boys would play between 72 and 90 minutes of indoor soccer. It was fun and intense.

As a coach to these boys, I’ve really come to enjoy watching and being a part of their development as players, and more importantly, as people. It is not always an easy job, but it is rewarding. Such a reward came at the Winter Blast Indoor Soccer Tournament.

As is the case with any good sports story, we had to overcome challenges that tested each player and the team. We had to play each other in the semifinals and then in the final we faced the team that beat both of our teams in the round robin group stage. The final was much closer than either of the earlier games. Emotions ran high on both sides. There was pushing, shoving, and injuries. Our team took the lead. Up one goal, the time seemed to slow down. The wear and tear on their young legs was catching up to them. This tiredness and the subsequent communication breakdown it caused led to the other team scoring an equalizer.

Not much time remained in regulation. I was starting to determine the best strategy to employ in overtime. Despite the pressure of playing in a final and all of the other challenges, our team persevered and scored the go-ahead goal.

As the clock ticked down…10…9….8…7…excitement built on our sideline. Then, exultation. We were the champions. The excitement and joy on the faces of the boys is what I will remember the most. That, and all of the work they put in to creating that moment.

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With malice toward none; with charity for all

1865oath
Library of Congress
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. – President Lincoln, March 4, 1865
 
We may not think of Abraham Lincoln as “the most divisive president in U.S. history” as some have called President George W. Bush or President Obama, but the truth is Lincoln was president during the only time in our nation’s history that Americans fought against each other in a civil war.
Today, March 4, is the day in 1865 that Lincoln was inaugurated for his second term as President. The closing remarks of his address (above) were relevant then as a way to begin the healing the nation needed. Those same words have meaning today, much for the same reasons.
In the news, on social media, pretty much everywhere you turn, there are messages being shouted that pit one group of people or ideas against another. I look out and see our nation divided. I look out and see divisions, not just between Republicans and Democrats, but among those two groups. What I see is the rising tide of bigotry and racism. This tide is evil and has the potential to drown us all.

We can and must remember our history. We can and must overcome. We can and must do everything within our power to dispell the base instincts that are shouting for attention. Lincoln understood this. He spoke about it and took actions to stop the division. He took actions, just as we must today, to stand united, because should we continue to be divisive we shall fall.