Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sports Heroes







We are hearing a lot these days about the world of sports and it's heroes. And most of it, at least from my perspective is not very flattering. An Olympic hero has his reputation tarnished with illegal drugs, multiple baseball heroes caught up in a drug use scandal, football players arrested on charges from drugs to alcohol to domestic abuse. I personally find it very sad that these unquestionably amazing and talented athletes choose, yes, I said choose, to tarnish their reputations, damage their teams and in some cases throw their lives away when they've so obviously been given such great gifts. I have no choice but to question personally how these icons can be considered heroes and role models when they so publicly violate our trust and respect. For a sports fan like myself, this has been very disheartening and disturbing to watch unfold.

However, two weeks ago, much of my faith in what a true sports hero can be was restored. As most of you who read my blog and know me personally are aware, my daughter Emma skates on a Synchronized Skating team for the National Blades organization. Two weeks ago, her team was involved in a competition in Morristown, NJ. Not just any competition, for them, at their ages (10 - 14) and level, it was their highest goal - akin to a national championship for the winner.

Two days of competition, the first, the Semi-Final round where the top 6 teams from each flight of 12 would advance to the Finals and the medal round. There was a team competing that first day that had everything going for them. They had recently medaled in their toughest competition to date and to say that the buzz in the arena was that they were the team to beat would be an understatement. Their practice ice had gone beautifully, their attitudes were great, their love for skating and each other was evident.

Taking the ice, this team began their routine, practiced literally 100's of times in preparation for this moment. All was going well, beautiful circles, spirals and complex formation changes; all executed precisely in tight blocks and circles........until......the unthinkable happened.......first one skater caught her blade and went down, two more following the first in what was one of the most horrific crashes this skating enthusiast has ever seen.

The arena seemed to slow down Matrix-like as the skaters one by one...........got back up and rejoined the formation as if nothing had ever happened. I discovered later on that one of the fallen had said to the others, "C'mon, let's finish this thing!"

As the team became one skater once again, the entire arena cheered and applauded for them, they knew as well that the crash was unlike any other - indeed an official later told the coach that as she was about to blow the whistle to stop the music, she saw that they were getting back up to keep going. Unheard of. Unimaginable.

Bleeding and in pain, this team became one again and finished their routine, not only finishing, but finishing FLAWLESSLY. In an amazing test of will and courage, this team of young girls became for this disillusioned sports enthusiast a new example of sports heroism.

They proved that team is more important than self; falling down is not failure and finishing well in the face of terrible odds makes you the ultimate winner. This is what being a sports hero should be. Not the accolades or celebrity or money of it all, but being the team that sticks together and finishes well.

I am proud to reveal to you that this team I'm writing about is my daughter's team. They finished dead last that day, but for that day, they were the true winners at that arena. After the EMT's had carried two of our skaters to the hospital, one needing stitches in her face, the other with a back injury; the rest of the team had to walk across the arena to get back to the locker room to retrieve their equipment and change. As they crossed the arena, the entire audience stood for them, including the judges and officials, acknowledging their courage. That's a moment they should carry with them the rest of their lives and one that I will remember always.

I've included a few pictures of the team, one on the ice and others at our home rink afterward. At their first practice back, I made them each a "Tough Cookie" award and told them how proud I was to be one of their team moms.

Today, as many of you read this, the team is competing in their last competition this season in Hershey, PA. They, as they should, are wanting that Gold medal. But they understand now where the true gold really is - Finishing Well.

Go National Blades!

6 comments:

  1. Your sentiments here are beautifully worded.

    I watched the video of their competition. I would never have believed how hurt the 2 girls were, because they came back to the line very quickly and skated beautifully. They did great! If all of the Moms are as supportive as you are, then it is no wonder the girls are such heroes!

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  2. What a beautiful story! I hope the 2 young ladies who were injured are OK! I wish them well in their competition in Hershey! They are all winners in my book!

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  3. What a wonderful, truly inspirational story! I, too, am proud of these exceptional young people! Thank for sharing this, Robin!

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  4. Great story, can't wait ti hear how they did! And how cute are those "tough cookie" awards!!! Have a great week Robin!

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  5. WOW! What an inspirational story about your daughter's team and the strength and determination they exhibited. You have every right to be proud of them. I can only imagine the life lesson that was learned that day. I bet it will carry them with grace and fortitude through future tough times. Thank you for sharing!!!

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  6. Wow, what an amazing story. Kudos to all of the girls, and a speedy recovery to those who were injured. YOU GO GIRLS!!!!

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