"Wow! Your team has some really great hitters," I told one father as we chatted about the plays during a timeout. He thanked me and complimented our players as well.
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"We're missing one of our players today," he said, quietly adding, "Her mother died this past week of stomach cancer."
He further explained that the player's future is up in the air in more ways than one. She had been staying with a teammate for a few days but might end up living with her grandmother, he said.
The volleyball court seemed to fade away as those words soaked into my thoughts. A 14-year-old just lost her mother. No wonder her teammates were playing their hearts out. They wanted to win this game.
I found myself cheering for them as much as I was cheering for my own daughter's team.
The desire to win a game, a contest, an award is so natural that we seem to be born with that instinct.
There's nothing wrong with winning. After all, who doesn't like to win? Yet when winning becomes our primary focus, we lose sight of the things that are truly important in life.
After that particular game, our team had a little break before our next game. My husband and I made our way to the cafeteria to have coffee and do some paperwork.
My mind was cluttered with thoughts of what I had just been told on the sidelines. As I started to focus on the work before me, I began to hear bits and pieces of the conversation from the table beside ours.
A mother from another volleyball club was sharing her frustrations about a previous season.
"I felt like saying, ‘Win d****it!'" she said, uttering the expletive without restraint. "I'm tired of losing."
The callousness of her statement stood in stark contrast to what had just transpired on the side of the volleyball court.
Hers was a self-centered, task-oriented statement which revealed that she had little regard for the feelings of others. Why would she say "I'm tired of losing?" Is she part of the team? I think some parents think they are on the team and should be treated as such.
Other parents are concerned with the needs of other players and their families.
After all, compassion revealed in true sportsmanship creates winners on both sides of the court.