The most memorable victories are often reflected in your athlete’s character, rather than on the score board. I learned this when my daughter was a senior in high school, fighting to keep her position as libero on the varsity volleyball team. Her coach informed her near the beginning of the season that he was going to try someone else at libero in their next game and she was devastated. She held her tears until she came home, but then went sobbing to her room.
After drying her eyes, she picked up a volleyball and headed out to practice on her own with a friend. She decided she wasn’t going to roll over in this moment of adversity. That wasn’t a trait in her character.
Their first home game that season was one she had been looking forward to. Had her coach not opted to play the other girl, it would have been my daughter’s first time being announced as a starter. With the coach’s decision final, however, that dream was crushed. I got to the game a few minutes late and saw my daughter sitting on the bench.
Victories of character can be so much sweeter than victories on the stat sheet
Eventually she was subbed in to play, and even though she was not playing her beloved libero position, she played the back row rotation with a vengeance. I watched her throughout the match for signs of anger or sadness and I saw none. I saw a girl cheering her teammates on and playing with all her heart. Later that night, she told me that Coach had offered to announce her as a starter—knowing how much it meant to her—and she simply said, “No it’s Sarah’s time. Let her be introduced.”
The girls won the match, but that was really of no consequence to me as her mom. I was so darn proud of that girl for her selfless attitude, for not giving up, and for being a team player. I knew that even if the match had been lost, my daughter would have still been a winner. That’s when I realized that memories of wins and losses will fade over time, but the victories of character enjoyed by young athletes will stick with them forever.
She got her libero spot back after that game—and kept it throughout the season—but the victory of overcoming her disappointment and letting her character shine through is one that she and I still cherish today. Always look for ways that your child exhibits victories of character, and never forget to tell them how proud you are.