Last weekend my daughter’s soccer team lost in the round of sixteen of their State Cup.
It definitely wasn’t how we expected to go out. We were the better team, but not on this day, not even close. A bad ending to a great season made this loss sting even more. Many of the girls sobbed as they came to their parents’ arms for comfort after the final whistle. Sad for the loss that day and sad because this was our last game together, this team will be broken apart because of the new calendar-year age groupings. The coach called them back for one final huddle. They collected themselves as best they could and headed across the field. My friend noticed this exchange as two of the girls walked back to their coach together. One reached down and grabbed the hand of the other. It was so simple, but so powerful. My friend felt the gravity of the moment and snapped the photo.
These are competitive girls with competitive parents who all wanted and expected another W. But at it’s very core, this moment reminded me of what it’s really all about. Friendship, respect, and a bond that you can only know and understand if you’ve been part of a competitive sports team. This small gesture from teammate to teammate reminded me why, despite all of the craziness, we allow and encourage our kids to compete at a high level.