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October 29, 2012

HUNTER: Providence’s weekend represents all sports

SELLERSBURG — I opened up Monday’s edition of the News and Tribune and went directly to the sports section (come on ... most of us do that).

What I saw were two pictures above the fold that represents all of high school athletics. The top picture was the Providence volleyball team celebrating as it is going to the Class 2A state finals this coming weekend.

The bottom picture was of the Providence girls’ soccer team’s loss in the Class A state championship match and the girls pictured were dejected.

Those two pictures from the same school on the same weekend exemplify athletics and how emotional sports can be. Anything that you put your heart and soul (cliché, I know, but it is the truth) into will hurt if you don’t get the desired result. Yet, the euphoria of attaining that goal is like something you can’t explain unless you have played/coached sports.

Winning at athletics, you learn to win with class (hopefully), and enjoy accomplishment. I had gotten to the point in my 20-plus years of coaching that no win was bad. Every single win was a good win.

I would take a “bad” win over a “good” loss any day, but I had learned that winning was hard to do, too.

Therefore, any win was good (I realize many disagree). I learned to appreciate the time and effort it takes to win. The saying goes “if winning were easy, everybody would be doing it” and it is true.

But in any athletic event (OK, most), there has to be a loser also.

Losing in athletics, you may learn more about life. Life is hard. To lose at something you have poured your young life into is hard. But you are forced to go to practice the next day or play the next game or get up and go to church or school. It is a skill to get up again that must be developed — to fail then continue on with the same effort and desire that you had before the loss is not easy.

Often it isn’t the result of an athletic event or even a life event that matters, it is what you do after the result.

Do you get back up and continue to work, or do you quit and go through the motions?

It is easier to go through the motions in anything and when you do that you don’t run the risk of being hurt.

Being hurt, well, it hurts … a lot.

Losing hurts, winning is fun.

Losing teaches you how to handle adversity. Winning teaches you how to be gracious. Losing may make you doubt what you have been doing. Winning reinforces what you have been doing. Losing hurts deep down to your core. Winning makes everything smell, taste and feel better.

Back in 2003, the Henryville boys’ basketball team had a sectional championship (which would have been our first ever) snatched from the jaws of victory or at least overtime.

The players and especially the coaching staff were dejected, I mean ... like the picture of the Providence girls’ soccer team Monday dejected, and then I received this quote from assistant coach Robin Embry in an email.

It is an excerpt from a Teddy Roosevelt speech:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotionism who spends himself in a worthy cause who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Perry Hunter is a Henryville High School teacher and a former coach of the school’s boys’ basketball team. You can visit his blog at coachperryhunter.blogspot.com.

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