THIS + THAT

True die-hard New England sports fans may have had problems getting out of bed Tuesday, Dec. 12. They likely burnt the candle late Monday night, watching the New England Patriots and/or the Boston Celtics. Then, to suffer to even a higher degree, both teams lost to an inferior opponent. How does that happen?

And then, they had to clean snow off their car. True New Englanders are really supposed to enjoy the snow, but how many snow bunnies do you see skip out to their car to clean the vehicle off? They are few and far between.

Back to the question two paragraphs ago, how does that happen?

The best answer, I think, is that’s why they play the games.

I do radio talk shows, and listeners and co-hosts were disrespectful to me on Monday, when I dared hint that the Dolphins would challenge the Patriots that evening. Mind you, I did not say the Patriots would lose. I said watch out for Jay Cutler, who would present a challenge, which would have Patriots fans sweating.

I didn’t pick the game correct, but I did get the sweating part right. In fact, my guess is that most Patriot fans went way beyond the sweat stage. Think of what the odds would have been of both the Miami Dolphins and the Chicago Bulls winning that night, even if they had Dan Marino and Michael Jordan on their respective rosters.

Most importantly, this is the perfect reminder to one and all, that this is why the games are played. Just when athletes and fans alike start to believe at any level – professional, college or high school – that a defeat isn’t possible, fate steps in and changes its own direction. In Monday’s example, I couldn’t possibly see a loss by either New England team, but both teams fell – just like the snow I am watching tumble to the ground as I write this piece.

This type of defeat is good for sports in general. Over my years, and there have been too many of those to count, these games seem to happen to my teams more than I would like to remember. Many a season has been spoiled by Mr. or Mrs Upset. I want to make sure that Mr./Mrs. know they have both my attention and respect.

I have also been around long enough to believe that sports and life are intertwined in a way in which athletes learn so much about the challenges they will face in life by the adversity presented to them throughout their athletic careers. They may think they are lucky enough to be a part of a championship team that wins every game and is never challenged. Such an experience is great, and one learns a lot when working together brings out everyones best.

But, often more is learned when you are part of a team that does not win many games or any at all. These situations make one ready for many of the trails and tribulations they may encounter in life’s journey. These athletes usually have an easier time adjusting to the valleys they will grapple with in the future years because they’re not looking at the world with just rose tinted glasses.

A coach’s toughest job is making their athletes believe they are trending in the right direction when they don’t win right away. I spoke to two first-year varsity high school coaches recently who figure their athletes have potential. The two were Fall Mountain boys’ coach Justin Cassarino and Bellows Falls girls coach Todd Wells. Both lost close games in their season and career openers. Both know meaningful growth doesn’t happen overnight.

Cassarino was pumped over all the good things he saw and was hoping for a stronger season for the Wildcats than in recent years, but many of his players only saw a setback in a tough loss to Conant.

Wells, on the other hand, felt his team played well. His biggest frustration was having the time to put in his way of doing things in such a short pre-season time. He also hopes his athletes understand that there are no short cuts to success.

Back to the New England teams, the Patriots and Celtics have given us a reminder to take nothing for granted in life. You can be comfortable in life; but if you start to become too comfortable and expect things to be handed to you, there will come a day when life will remind you that’s not how things go all the time.

Before completely moving on from the subject, the Yankees haven’t won anything yet. But, they are looking pretty good right now.

An interesting tidbit, which you can bet did not go unnoticed by Fall Mountain female athletes who compete on both the girls’ soccer and basketball teams, is that Campbell was the opening game opponent for the basketball team. Campbell girls’ soccer recently defeated the Lady Wildcats in the New Hampshire Division III State Championship Game in heartbreaking fashion in a shoot out. The score of that opening game in the Den last week makes me think there was no memory loss in Langdon. The basketball final was 43-25 Fall Mountain. It doesn’t get the schools anywhere near even, but it certainly is a step in the right direction.

Another Fall Mountain connection happened just a few weeks back. I saluted the former Fall Mountain star athlete Adrian Dubois who coaches the Men’s College Soccer team at St. Joseph’s College in Maine. Remember this past Fall 2017 season, his team went undefeated but was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament because of penalty kicks.

I asked the successful coach what he thought of his old high school’s girls’ soccer loss in their state title game by the exact same method on title day: penalty kicks. Following seconds of silence, Dubois said simply, “That’s wild.” This was followed by a few moments of silence before he continued, “That’s a bummer.” True for both Fall Mountain and St. Joseph.

To contact me with any news or sports page feedback, email me at bmurphy@vermontjournal.com

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