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Shock the World

Win one for the Gipper.
Shock the World.
David vs. Goliath.

I used all of them yesterday.

Yesterday was the culmination of 3 months of coaching soccer for a motley crew of 8-10 year olds.

When I decided to coach Brady’s (aka Buster) soccer team this year, I thought it would be a good experience. For him and I. And it was. But I never knew it would end like it did yesterday.

All season long, we were an “average” team trying to get better each week.

In the beginning of the year, some of the boys were more interested in watching daisies grow. And it would drive Coach Jeff (Granucci) and I nuts.

But we kept telling them about the value of hardwork, practice, hustling, belief, and having fun. And we also told them it was more fun to win than to lose. Yes, you can say that at this level it’s all about participation and fun. But I know that when the kids win, it’s more fun. So in order to do that, we were trying to teach them how to compete. And how to get better.

Let’s fast forward to yesterday.

It was playoff day. And there were up to 4 games for the teams that kept winning.

We were the #8 seed in the tourney. There were only 12 teams. The whopping #8 seed.

In the 1st game against the #9 seed, we were down 1-0 at half. And we won 2-1. We advanced.

In the 2nd game against the #1 seed, we were down 2-0 at the half. And we miraculously won 5-3. Wow. We advanced.

Despite heavy tired legs, in the 3rd game against the #5 seed, we were tied 0-0 at the half.

And we were tied 2-2 at the end or regulation. Wow.

Time for penalty kicks. And at the end of 5 penalty kicks, we were still tied.

So we went into sudden death penalty kicks.

And on the 7th kick, Team IMPACT shocked the world (well, at least us parents) and we WON.

The team went bananas. Dog-piled on each other. And it was absolute pandemonium.

We advanced to the finals. And this time it was against the #3 seed team of the tourney. But these were the kids/team that were the best all year but we pulled off a shocking upset tie 2 weeks ago to lower their seed.

So in the 4th game of the day, and coming off an emotional high, we had to immediately head to the FINALS with no rest, exhilarated and excited, but also exhausted.

I knew these little kids didn’t have much in the tank and I knew the other team was “only” playing their 3rd game of the day.

So I had to come up with every tactic in the book. I had already used Win One for the Gipper. Already used David vs. Goliath. And Shock The World.

So after introducing them to taking a few deep breaths, all I talked about was HUSTLE. That whether we won or lost in the finals, I just wanted to see them compete. And fight. And show heart. And show HUSTLE.

We lost the game. As a matter of fact we got smoked about 7-1. I stopped counting when the clinic the other team was putting on scored 5 goals.

And I couldn’t stop thinking about how darned proud I was to see my tired-little boys out there HUSTLING. Competing. Playing hard. And even getting a goal in the 2nd half.

When at halftime one of my kids asked “Do we get 2nd place ribbons?”, I was reminded that I was coaching 8, 9, & 10 year olds. And I just smiled. And said yes.

It was a memorable day yesterday. One of true IMPACT for these kids. I don’t think they will ever forget the exhilaration of winning in penalty kicks. Or finishing 2nd in the league after a year that was marked by mediocre outcomes… but slow and steady improvement.

Believe it or not, Coach Larry Indiviglia showed up impromptu for our semi-final game and of course, had his video camera. He spliced together a short video highlight of the day and caught some great ACTION and glimpses inside the huddle of Team IMPACT. He captured the winning PK kick, the celebratory dog pile, went inside the huddle (unbeknownst to me), and got some great footage of the kids hustling their tails off.

Check out the short video highlight of TEAM IMPACT here (password all lowercase is hustle1):  (even just watch the first 90 seconds!)

This week our Word of the Week (W.O.W.) is HUSTLE. Team IMPACT created some great memories this weekend because of their HUSTLE, hard work, and belief in their mission. I’ve coached a lot of games before. I’ve played in a lot of games before. On all levels. And yesterday was such a gratifying day to see the kids work so hard and create a memory of their young lives.

Just like these little kids pouring out every ounce of effort they had, let’s make sure we are HUSTLING this week as well. And even if your “season” starts slow or it’s just trudging along, you always have to keep HUSTLING. Because when you do, GREAT things happen.

WOW is HUSTLE. Get it done. Thanks Team IMPACT for an inspiring weekend!

“Coach Todd”

P.S. I went to bed at 7:30 pm last night from complete exhaustion. I can only imagine what these little IMPACTers must have felt like. And I LOVE IT!!!

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