On a beautiful, sunny November afternoon in Columbus, Ohio, the St. Francis DeSales girls’ soccer team stormed the field at Crew Stadium as the final second elapsed in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II state championship game. Admist screams, cheers and a few moist eyes, the players ran onto the soccer pitch to greet their onfield teammates.
The scene seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary, except for one thing: At the hands of high school soccer power Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, the Stallion girls had just lost, suffering the worst championship game defeat in Ohio high school girls’ soccer history – five to nothing.
There is nothing to celebrate on the heels of a sound drubbing, especially when it occurs before faithful family, hundreds of friends and two bus-loads of classmates. Nevertheless, while there was certainly disappointment (especially amongst the six unassuming seniors), the DeSales high school girls still found reason to share a celebratory moment together.
When the OHSAA Division II high school girls’ soccer tournament began in mid-October, there were 176 teams eligible to win a State title. At that time, no one thought that the Stallion girls had much of a chance. Afterall, leading up to the single-elimination tournament, they had lost their last five games and their regular season record was far from spectacular.
Further, while they were projected to easily get beyond the first round, there were some who predicited that this injury-hampered team might lose in the second against a strong area opponent.
The second round loss did not happen, however. Nor did it in the third round against their sturdy league rival.
Certainly, however, many felt they would lose in the District championship. After all, they were playing against the number one seed, a team that had easily bested them in the regular season. The Stallion women, however, grew deaf to the prognosticators, scoring in overtime to ensure that the season would continue.
“Surely, they will not make it out of regional play,” Stallion detractors thought. The odds were against them. In the regional semi-final, they played a top seed from another district. Nevertheless, they won again, scoring in the final minute of regulation.
And after the remanants of Hurricane Sandy delayed the regional semi-final game for two days, the St. Francis DeSales girls’ soccer team was forced to play the regional championship game less then 48 hours later. Despite squaring off against another highly-seeded team that had four days of rest, they managed to win again.
Then in the State semi-final, they embarked upon another “seemingly insurmountable challenge” as they faced a perienial soccer power from the Cincinnati area with a consensus All-American player. But once again, the Stallions found a way to score and turn away the final several minutes of desparate onslaught from their opponent.
When the state tournamement began, no one had any reason to suspect that the St. Francis DeSales Stallions would be in the title game. On November 9th, however, there they were, in their uniforms, on the field and ready to play.
Interestingly enough, before each game – almost as a ritual or tradition – each Stallion player wraps a single piece of athletic tape around their forearm. Then using a felt tipped marker they write on it, Find Your Greatness. These three simple words serve as a reminder that with every game, practice or soccer encounter, there is something to achieve beyond mere wins.
So perhaps it is not surprising that the DeSales girls ran onto the field in celebration after what others might deem a stunning defeat. They realized that while they might not have won, they had got where 174 other teams failed to get.
And despite suffering a crushing defeat, all 22 girls played their hearts out until those final seconds ticked away. And despite not reaching the absolute pinnacle of Ohio high school soccer, they knew they had still achieved something. And that something was certainly enough to satisfy their three-word mantra and justify storming the field in celebration.
What is your greatness? Far too often, we hang our heads when things do not go exactly our way. Rather, we should follow the lead of the St. Francis DeSales girls’ soccer team and take an inventory of all we have as opposed to all we do not.
While you might not achieve all your dreams or conquer every challenge, there is always something to celebrate. You are not going to close every sale, but you close enough to celebrate. You
might be seemingly overlooked for that promotion, but that does not erase all that you have achieved. You might not have a business that is featured in the Wall Street Journal (or even your local Main Street Journal), but you still offer great value to your community.
With every setback or disappointment, take some time to collect yourself. In those moments, reflect back on all you have done and ignore what you have not. In that quiet time to yourself, imagine the words “Find Your Greatness” and as you do storm the field in your heart with celebration.