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Learn from victory and defeat

Eighteen Hurley YMCA Warriors are trying to qualify for the AAU Junior Olympics Track and Field in Des Moines, Iowa, this July, and what a great life lesson this is.
I know you have been reading a lot about our Warriors’ accomplishments so far. They have been working very hard, and it has paid off. Of our team, 18 athletes will be going to Suffolk, Va., Thursday through Sunday and trying to qualify for the Junior Olympics in Iowa. It’s an amazing group of kids and parents and an honor to be one of their coaches.
As many parents and coaches will agree, a traveling team (whether it’s sports, band, academics, etc.) takes a lot of dedication, hard work and, of course, money. And with all that, nothing is certain. Just because you work hard, are dedicated and have the funds does not mean that you will go where you want to go.
But isn’t that a great life lesson? When I look at today’s society, everyone has to have a cell phone, laptop, iPad and so on. Even in the schools, “no child is left behind.” We are paving a road that is the “easiest” for a child to deal with, but is it the best way? How can a child deal with “defeat” when the majority aren’t or rarely are exposed to it?
I remember in school, the teams were picked by the kids. Your best athletes were picked first, and the worst ones were picked last. Definitely no fun for the last person, but in my experience they were excelling in another field such as music or academics, etc. And a life lesson right? Just because you want to participate it’s going to happen? As we adults know, life doesn’t treat you that way. It takes so much work and dedication, and then there is still no guarantee whatever you are working for is going to happen.
As a youth coach and now also high school coach, I look for effort, dedication, hard work and respect. Are you willing to put the time in? Are you willing to make sacrifices? Are you willing to put your sweat, tears and heart into it?
And even if you are, once again, nothing is definite! One thing I can promise as a coach is that I will give you all I have for all you give to me. But does it guarantee you going to the Junior Olympics or being on the varsity team? Because when it all comes down to it, it’s the fastest runners who will make cross-country varsity, it’s the top eight at the qualifier in Virginia who can go to Des Moines, Iowa, it’s the football players who are practicing even when they don’t “need” to but also are big enough, strong enough and quick enough. I have coached for many years from judo to soccer and basketball, track and field and cross-country, and in my experience a “semi” talented, dedicated, hard-working athlete will trump a talented athlete with low work ethics, another great life lesson right?
A great quote by Confucius (a Chinese teacher, philosopher who lived BC): “Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising every time we fall.”
As a retired top athlete, I know what it takes and that there is no guarantee. But I would not change it for anything in the world, to be in the dojo on the mat for eight hours working on technique, conditioning, strength and flexibility to name a few. The life lessons I learned through hard work, blood, sweat and tears are priceless. Our Hurley YMCA Warrior athletes and the parents do it all and they learn to be respectful “winners” and humble “losers.”
My favorite saying to the kids is “embrace the suck.” My team even gave me a shirt with that on it! Working hard isn’t easy but the ideals they learn will teach them valuable lessons which will stay with them through life. Another of our team’s favorites is: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift,” a quote by Steve Prefontaine.
This Tuesday (tomorrow) come eat at CiCi’s pizza on Jake Alexander Boulevard and tell them you are there for the Hurley YMCA Warriors. A portion of that money will go to the team to help offset the cost for Des Moines, Iowa.
What a road this has been. It takes hard work and dedication as I mentioned before, and a lot of support of the parents, coaches and community. Salisbury Rowan Runners graciously donated the entry money for Suffolk, Va. Thanks to SRR. And even with hard work and all the support, it does not guarantee you a spot to the nationals. If your child likes to run, jump and/or throw and wants to be part of Hurley YMCA Warriors, our 2015 season will start mid-March.
There is a half day track and field sports camp at the Hurley YMCA July 21-25 from 9 a.m. to noon. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., we will be working on running, long jump, high jump, shot put and turbo javelin, and from 11 a.m. to noon, they will swim, climb, etc. On July 25, we will have a mini meet. A great way to see if this is something your child is interested in, it’s for elementary and middle school age children.
And I want to leave you with this quote by Bob Beamon, an American gold medalist at the Mexico Olympics in 1968:
“Whatever you do, don’t do it halfway.”

Ester H Marsh , AAU track and field coach, Hurley YMCA Warrior

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