Posted in Football, Uncategorized, Writing

What Defines Success?

I am a big sports fan. Baseball is my number one love, but I can get pretty crazy when it comes to football. And yesterday, my San Francisco 49ers were in the NFC Championship game for the third year in a row.

They lost. Their quest for a sixth Super Bowl Championship will have to wait at least another year. The made it to the Super Bowl last year and lost a close game. Disappointing, yes. Frustrating, you bet.

But it did get me thinking about what is success? Did the 49ers have a successful season, even though they are not the NFC champs? Is their young quarterback a failure because he made a mistake at the crucial point of the game?

I’m sure fans will debate this over the course of the offseason. Heck, I’ve participated in conversations on Facebook and Twitter about this very thing. (Don’t pay attention to my in-game Tweets. My account is taken over by a borderline crazy lady)

My son has started off-season conditioning for his high school football team. The t-shirt he got says something about last season’s playoff berth was only the beginning. They are hoping for something more. Something better. A win in the playoffs, maybe? Going all the way in their division? Will they feel like failures if they don’t go deeper into the playoffs than just making it for the first time since 1987?

All of this has got me thinking about my writing. What will make me feel like a success? At one point, just getting an editor or agent to want to look at my manuscript was a small victory. And signing that first publishing contract was pretty awesome.

But I have yet to “take the field” so to speak. My book comes out on April 7. Eleven weeks from today. So what will it take to be a success? How many copies will I need to sell? What about bestseller lists? Or awards? Will I need outside validation to make me feel like I’ve made it? And will I feel like I have to do better with the next book? And the one after that?

I already feel like I should have made fewer mistakes on the second book. Instead I find myself making the same errors in grammar and “house style” as I did on my first book. And in going through my next manuscript, yup, more of the same.

One thing being a sports fan has taught me, is that you can’t win them all. And even if you do, you can’t keep winning every single time. All an athlete or a writer can do is put forth their best effort and keep showing up.

 

Because the only thing worse than losing is quitting.
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Posted in Football, Teenagers

Hard Work Does Pay Off

Tuesday night was my son’s JV Football banquet and awards presentation. After an up and down season, both for the team and my son, it was a bittersweet goodbye. The team finished 5-5, which is pretty good considering we often play up a division or two due to various factors I won’t go into, mostly because I don’t have a clue as to how the schedules are made up and since I can’t do anything to change it, I’ll move on.

My son went from hardly playing last year on the Freshman team, to being a starting Linebacker and one of the JV Captains. He earned his spot in part by participating in every offseason workout, extra skills training and camp he could. I think he missed one or two Muscle Works sessions due to band and a week of pre-season conditioning because he was at a fine arts camp.

He played hard and improved over the course of the season until he was injured in practice. He missed three weeks with a concussion. The length of time had less to do with the severity of the injury and more to do with having to go through the much more stringent testing procedures required for medical clearance.

There were a few days where we weren’t sure if he’d return to play or if we should let him. We ultimately left the decision up to the doctors.

He loves football. He’s worked so hard this season and in the offseason. He’s always one of the first on the field and the last one off. The first kid to help with equipment and he takes his game very seriously. Last year was his first year of tackle football. He played three years of flag football in Middle School, but before that he never even watched it on TV.

So I was a little surprised, but very proud when his name was called for the Coach’s Award for the player who best exemplifies Cougar Football.

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He worked hard and was rewarded for his dedication, commitment and attitude. All the things that seem to get lost in stats and records and scoreboards. But these are the reasons we encourage him to play sports. And the reasons we enjoy watching.

 

Posted in Baseball, Football

My Love Hate Relationship with Football

Anyone who knows me, has knocked on my front door or has followed me on Twitter knows I love baseball. I love the San Francisco Giants and I’m pretty passionate about the game.

Only those who’ve known me for a long time know that I used to be even more passionate about football. I was a 49er freak. I even had earrings I wore every Sunday (except when the Niners were on Monday Night Football). I have 49er stuff dating back to Super Bowl XVI. I have 1984 Commemorative Coca Cola bottles and a photo of me and Ronnie Lott circa 1986.

I scheduled my weekends around the 49ers schedule.

But that changed when I became a mom in 1998. Pregnancy hormones had me noticing the injuries more than the intensity of the game. Hard hits were now a cause of concern instead of celebration. Concussions were just beginning to be taken more seriously. Or maybe I was just noticing because I was now responsible for a baby boy, and every one of those players the field have a mother somewhere. Worrying about them.

Sure, I still watched on Sundays, but not glued to the TV. Mostly because I was too busy chasing a very active boy around. Picking up hundreds of balls from every corner of our house. Small, round baseballs were easier for a young toddler to pick up and instinctively throw.

Baseball was a more family friendly sport. We took our baby to a SF Giants game when he was three months old. He was sixteen months old when we went to our last game at Candlestick Park and Robb Nen threw a ball into the stands. The fan who caught it gave it to our son and he started to throw it back, but we stopped him. We still have the ball.

He played t-ball while his baby brother played on the grass nearby. He moved up through Little League and his brother started playing too. Our family went to two Major League Giants games and about thirty Little League Giants games in 2010. Life was good.

Then my oldest boy discovered football. I blame his first t-ball coach. He coached the middle school flag football team and thought my son would be a good player.

He wasn’t at first. But then he played every game his 8th grade year, and was hooked. He went out for the Freshman team but didn’t have much playing time. He worked during the offseason going to weight training and extra skills practice. He earned enough “Commitment Club” points to be fitted with a new helmet and made JV Captain this year.

He started as Outside Linebacker and special teams. He was having the time of his life.

Until I showed up at practice early one day. I found him sitting on the sidelines with a bag of ice on the back of his neck. I asked him what happened and he couldn’t tell me. Coach came over to talk to me. My son didn’t remember the hit he made on a teammate. He didn’t remember practice or school that day. He had a concussion.

Three weeks later and a CT scan, two rounds of concussion testing and much debate between his father and me, he returned to play.

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He didn’t have his best game, missing a couple of tackles early, but he played. He got up every time and when I looked into his eyes after the game, I was satisfied that he was ok.

But the game isn’t the same anymore. Every time a player is slow getting up, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Even if it’s not my boy, it’s somebody’s baby.

There is so much I love about my son being on the football team. The “Commitment Club” that rewards players for working hard, going above and beyond what is required. They are rewarded for getting good grades, working in the community, and pushing themselves to improve on their last times or their last lifts. The discipline, teamwork and camaraderie are going to last him beyond high school.

I just hope the memories are going to be the only things that last beyond high school.

That and the videos of them performing as cheerleaders for the girls Powder Puff game.

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