Friday, November 06, 2009

The Game

Tonight, our WCS football team plays Northland Christian School. The winner advances to the the Texas private school playoffs and the loser is finished for the year. That also means that one team's seniors will play their final football game tonight. The following is about one of the best games I have ever been privileged to watch. It is from May 5, 2006.

I wish you could have been there. I just walked in from a softball game. Our Westbury Christian girls just knocked off Houston Christian in the region finals to advance to the TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) state tournament. I'm jaded, having coached so many basketball and baseball games that I've lost the love of watching. I never go to games unless our WCS kids are involved. The only reason I am not detached in those I attend is that I have coached and taught most of our young men and women on the field or court. But this game had everything you could want in a contest between a bunch of teenagers. The ebbs and flows were as dramatic as I have ever witnessed. Both teams were in control... and lost control. The game featured defensive gems and hard-hit balls, close calls and strategies. There were twenty-three young ladies representing their two schools who played their hearts out on a glorious May afternoon on a gorgeous neutral field, generously provided by Fort Bend Baptist Academy. There was bound to be a winner and someone had to lose. The shame is that both teams could not advance but that's not how life works. In the bottom of the seventh, trailing 8-6, our Lady Wildcats were down to three outs in a last ditch effort to stave off the end of the season which would put to rest the high school careers of our five seniors. Bunching together a walk, infield hits, timely base running, and a line drive that landed just fair down the left field line, WCS got off the canvas to deliver the knockout blow to a courageous bunch of girls from Houston Christian by a 9-8 tally. Athletics, like life, can seem so cruel. One pitch, one swing, one catch can completely upset the perfect orbit of a game and send it careening into unpredictable chaos. Our opponents, their coaches, and their fans were classy in defeat. It isn't hard to exhibit Grantland Rice-like sportsmanship when you advance but when the bell tolls midnight and your season turns into a pumpkin, gracious behavior is an act of character. At the end of this riveting affair, the two squads joined hands in a circle encompassing the pitcher's mound. One side walked off in tears of joy, one side just walked off in tears.

Life is described with so many witty sayings, many of which seem trite and demeaning to the existence ordained by our God. But if someone told me that life was a mirror of this game I was just honored to witness, I would readily assent. The joy, the despair, the heartache, the reprieves- it had it all and more than I can do justice to in several paragraphs. I was so proud of our seniors- Shanna, Meggan, Amber, Lindsey, and Meg- because they fought to the end and lived to suit up at least one more time. But I also hurt for the girls from Houston Christian. I know they have seniors who wanted to win just as desperately and two hours ago may have played their last meaningful competitive game of anything in their lives. If I knew them, I'm sure I would love them like I do our own kids. If this had been a big time college or professional game, there would be press conferences and posturing, second guessing and whining. Praise the Lord that that isn't high school sports, at least not yet. Vicariously, I was allowed to be part of this magical night that stretched on like a dream from which you never want to wake up. Our players and coaches, along with the parents, retired to the Live Oak Grill in Sugar Land, Texas for a post-game dinner. I was blessed to tag along for the celebration. What a joy to see kids who are good students and wonderful examples having fun being together, being themselves. Win or lose at the state tourney in Waco, it ends in one week. My folks told wonderful stories about their childhood during my childhood. But, my parents never played sports and had no tales of great games to regale us with when I was little. I know twelve girls who just compiled a mental scrapbook of memories they will pass on to their next generation. I won't be in the memories but I was there that day!
Applicable quote of the day:
"There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win."
Elie Wiesel

PS: Shout out to the Live Oak Grill in Sugar Land off Dairy Ashford. Five Stars... WOW!
God bless,
Luke 18:1

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JKC said...

Steve - what a game this must have been, but your "reporting" of it was superb. I could feel your excitement and your joy, preceded by the pain and agony of near defeat. It is time for you to write another book. I felt it in this piece more than any other you have written.

Jon said...

thats so cool we won!!!