My friend and I have a saying we share whenever life is getting us down: little victories. We use it to point out those small, good things that happen when everything else seems against you. I recently experienced one of those little victories.
The other day a different friend told me he would not be participating in athletics this fall due to a suspension stemming from a rules infraction. He choked up telling me how he knew he let his team down. I could sense his remorse over his mistake.
I was a little upset as I had looked forward to following his progress. But I knew my role as a friend was not judge or berate him for him screwing up. I just listened. He talked about wanting to help his team from the sidelines and in practice. I told him to focus on just that.
My friend could have just given up, but he owned up to his mistake. He'll be facing his teammates every day this fall and not just retreating. I respect him for that. Even though his season might be lost, he's going to be contributing any way he can. That's a little victory.
Being here for over a year now, I've got a sense that Marshall likes big victories. Every season there's talk about making the state tournament. I like victories as much as the next sports fan, but a philosophy of "if you're not first, you're last" blinds you to so many things in life.
I think back to watching the Cottonwood Legion baseball team this summer. No, they did not win the state tournament, but coach Mike Rausch is building something good there. There were over 100 people at the home games I attended, and it wasn't just parents who showed up. Volunteers were selling concessions and the team was competitive. All those little victories have added up to one big one.
Our culture makes us believe that winning is the only thing that makes us happy in sports. Roger Bennett, the host of my favorite soccer podcast "Men in Blazers," said in a recent episode that he didn't believe that life was about finding happiness. "It's like sun in Florida, if you're always happy, you don't really appreciate it," he said.
Rather, Bennett said he thought life was about finding meaning, purpose and feeling things. And if you think your purpose is just to win all the time, I'm here to tell you that you're setting yourself up for major disappointment.
While my friend may not get to experience that winning feeling on the field this fall, he'll experience feelings of regret, growth, change and maybe a bit of wisdom. It may not be what he wanted, but I think it will be an important little victory.