A Game Changing Moment

Sometimes I miss the days of my youth when Darth Vader was evil incarnate and we shuddered to hear him tell Luke who his real father was.

It was 1983 and I was a wee lad of 14 who still believed he might play left or centerfield for the Dodgers and had no idea that one day George Lucas would rape my childhood by tampering with perfection.

Nor did I have any idea that one Saturday night I would sit at my keyboard smiling broadly because my son scored two goals, including a game winning shot.

Teaching Moments

David Prowse as Darth Vader in The Empire Stri...

David Prowse as Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week I shared my disappointmen about how the soccer team quit. Adversity came and instead of working together as a team to weather the storm they rolled over and gave up.


It is not in my nature to just quit. You could argue that I hang on to some things too long, but not quit. It takes a lot for me to just let go.

I spent a chunk of the week trying to take advantage of teaching moments from last week.

Game Changing Moments

You need courage to live and you need to be willing to learn from both success and failure. When I spoke with my children about the need to preserve our dignity and to do so for others it was tied into the feelings I have surrounding the game last week.

Even though that particular game isn’t something you can use to gauge the future success of these boys it chafed my skin because I don’t want to create a habit of giving in when things get tough.

Today I saw those same boys prove to themselves they could do better. They played two games.

They came roaring out of the gate and it looked like they were going to handle the first team and then they lost their grip. They made a few mistakes, gave into doubt and they ended up tied.

A few hours later they roamed around the field but without energy and purpose.  Even though they scored with ease they felt sorry for themselves because they gave up several goals and it looked like they might just lose.

But we shouted, encouraged, begged, yelled and cajoled some life into their legs and they came back to win the game.

My son hit the game winning shot.

A Change In Perspective

My son has played soccer for about seven years now and loves to play defense. He understands it and takes great joy in helping to shut down opposing teams and players.

But like all players he has his desire to score goals and dreams of being the hero.

He hasn’t had too many opportunities to try and fulfill those particular dreams. You can attribute it to two basic reasons:

  1. He is a very solid defender so his coaches haven’t wanted to move him up  front.
  2. Since he is less familiar with offense he has been hesitant to ask for the assignment. He wanted to try but he feared making mistakes.

I suggested he change his outlook and stop fearing making mistakes. I said it was better to try and fail then not at all.

I also told him that corner kicks and broken plays were the best times to score. Sure it is nice to receive a pass, shoot and score but the ugly shots count the same as the pretty ones.

And the guys who do the dirty work, who gut it out in the trenches earn a different sort of well deserved respect.

The Game Changing Moment

He scored his first goal during the second quarter of the first game…on a corner kick. Yep, little man took my advice, hustled and put it in. Amidst the confusion he slipped between two defenders and sent it into the goal.

The game winner from the second game also came on a corner kick, but there was a twist.

Three players on the other side stopped playing because they thought a foul would be called on one of their players. It gave my son more space to operate and he slipped in between them and put it in.

I taught him not to stop playing unless he heard the whistle and was instructed by the ref. They quit, he didn’t and the team won.

Just to be clear, the victory belonged to the team, but he hit the winning shot and I couldn’t be prouder.

What About Darth Vader Vs. Darth Maul?

Sometimes posts evolve and this one did.  Train jumped the tracks and I went with it.

I could have given you a “speech” about the dark side, but I am too tired. Didn’t swap the photos because I like them and they don’t hurt the post.

Sometimes you roll with the changes and sometimes you fight them. Small victories lead to bigger ones- I am so damn proud of these boys.

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  1. Jens P. Berget November 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    I can truly relate to this one Josh. I used to play soccer as well, and defense was my game. I didn’t score many goals, but I had a few, and they almost always happened on corner kicks 🙂

    Like you said, the thing is that we need to remember that it’s ok to make mistakes and instead of fear mistakes, we should embrace them and believe that we will learn from mistakes, and that we won’t do the same mistakes twice. This works in business and in soccer.

    • Jack November 5, 2012 at 12:17 am

      Hi Jens,

      I see corner kicks as being similar to the rebounds we put back in when we are playing basketball. It is “junk” but it is also a tremendous opportunity.

      It is not easy to face failure with our heads held high, but is so very important. That is where we really learn.

  2. Betsy Cross November 4, 2012 at 4:29 am

    I never quit either, but I do feel the despair when it’s inevitable. It is very hard to stay “up” and I have found that at those times I really do benefit from a cheerleader on the sidelines for my energy to go the distance.
    Defeat is palpable. It’s as real as euphoria for the win. And they both hinged on the same door of possibility. So I say if there’s a breath left in you give it everything you have ’cause a breath wasted… just feels rotten.

    • Jack November 5, 2012 at 12:15 am

      Hi Betsy,

      We all can use a cheerleader from time to time. It is nice to have someone in our corner who can be our coach and support under any circumstances.

      Defeat can definitely be palpable and there have been moments I could taste it, bitter and foul.

      It is hard to figure out when the moment to walk away comes.

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