Dealing with adversity
Sept. 24, 2012
Lessons are many times best learned through adversity. It’s how one handles it that is the measure of a man. Football gives all of us involved in the game an opportunity to test our resolve, our dedication, our commitment and our loyalty to each other and to those who support us. We need to remember to thank God for the opportunity to be tested because for young people it is just the beginning of a life long series of challenges.
For three straight weeks I’ve witnessed our freshmen and junior varsity coaches send their twenty-two, give or take, players out to compete against a team with sixty or more uniformed combatant’s standing on the opposing sideline. I’ve watched them put up great fight and never quit but I’ve also watched them wither from exhaustion as the second half wore on. It’s a demoralizing sight and I’m afraid it’s a battle that will be very hard to win.
Our varsity team followed an outstanding effort at Aloha with a lackluster and discouraging effort against Oregon City on Friday night. When adversity hit and we all felt the sting of injury and faced a team with something to prove we choose not to accept the challenge. Instead we reverted to finger pointing and although we talk about the importance in a team game of finding a single heart beat we faltered and became a group of young men with scattered heart rhythm.
A crisis is described by Mr. Webster in his dictionary as a disaster, a catastrophe, an emergency, a calamity or a predicament. I’m not sure about a disaster or a catastrophe but I’m quite sure we have an emergency in the football program at Lakeridge high school. The simple fact is football is a game of numbers and we have precious few numbers.
The reasons for less athletes playing football can be directly attributed to living in a culture that affords many other opportunities to young people. The technical advancements in our society in the last ten years provide instant gratification simply by turning on the computer, the cell phone or the many other toys now available to everyone. It’s a battle that can be won but it will certainly take time. It’s not a quick fix.
We have at Lakeridge a group of intelligent and athletic young men playing football. Unfortunately not enough with size and not enough period. When a key injury happens it affects the entire program. Let me give you an example. We had a defensive linebacker on the varsity team get injured. We needed to replace him with a junior varsity player and they had to replace their lost player with a freshman. It’s a roller coaster ride and not a fun one.
Our challenge this week is to somehow prepare our boys to play a more physical style of defense without injuring our kids during practice. The only way to become better tacklers is to practice tackling. That means more contact during practice than I like but we have no real choice. We’ll work more contact drills into our practice schedule this week and hope for the best. Teams with numbers have depth, we simply don’t.
As you know schools can choose to play up a division and that is what we have chosen to do. However, our number problem is an issue that may make us take a long look at dropping down to the athletic division our school enrollment dictates. That of course will be an administrative decision. But, it is my belief that the move is in the best interest of our athletes at this time.
The ending of ‘sport seasons’ has directly led to this problem. AAU and Club Sport fall programs in baseball, basketball and lacrosse have given players who used to choose a fall school sport another opportunity. These year around one sport advocates are not high school coaches but people with little or no loyalty to the school. This is unfortunate, in my opinion, and another issue for our administrators to contemplate.
I understand and fully comprehend that football is not a sport for everyone. I have no problem with that. My problem and one that we had better take a serious look at is people outside the high school community acting in their own best interest at the expense of high school sport programs. Here at Lakeridge we are in a crisis, no matter what the definition.