Monday, April 29, 2013

A Lesson in Finishing Strong

2013 Mid-America Cup College Showcase U-14 Girls Champions

Have you ever found it hard to finish strong? Have you ever found your heart in a place where you wanted to just ride it out? Have you ever just thought, "I will settle.... settle and let the chips fall where they may."? I think one of the hardest things for human beings to do is to finish strong. People tend to fade when the going gets rough or near the finish.  I was reminded this weekend that oftentimes the best is found at the end...if you finish strong.

This weekend was a reminder to me that if you finish strong, great things can happen. My Quincy United U-14 girls played in a tournament in Peoria. We have been very successful this season, but that did not guarantee us success this time. We started off slow on Saturday morning, but managed to pull off a 2-0 win in our opening game. I was not too concerned, since we never play well in the first match of a tournament.

Our second game was later the same day. We came out slow (again) and were not playing well together. As the game went on, we continued to make mistakes and we looked very sluggish. Things fell apart for our team and we ended up tying 1-1. We should have destroyed our opponent, but we didn't. I felt like I had called a poor game and my team under-performed. Our backs were against the wall...We had to win the next match or we would be coming home early.

I decided to call a rare team meeting. We all gathered in one of the hotel rooms just before we all called it a night. I began the meeting by apologizing to my team for my poor coaching and for not preparing them for the task at hand. I then challenged the girls to do a heartfelt evaluation of their performance and desire. They were all ears and leaned in. The last thing that I told them was, win or lose, I wanted them to finish strong. I could live with the results as long as we finished well.

Sunday's match was quite a turnaround. The girls came out with passion and heart. The match was a battle. We scored early in the match and the competition responded right after halftime to tie. The second half was hard-fought. We were running out of time. A tie would put us in our cars and headed home to Quincy. The girls didn't give up, and with one minute left in the match, we  scored! We played hard to the very end, and now had made it to the championship. We finished strong!!

We were excited to make it to the final, but we were beat up. Two players were injured in the match, and we had only two hours to rest before the last match. I didn't have a lot to say before the final match. I told the girls to leave every ounce of energy on the field and to finish the deal.

We came out and exercised our will against the Peoria team and won in convincing fashion. A 2-0 victory led us to the podium. We finished strong even when things were not going well.

 Are you at a moment in your life in which you need to finish something strong? I will leave you with this quote:

"If the word QUIT is in your vocabulary, then the word FINISH is likely not." - B.G. Jett

Wednesday, April 24, 2013