Our Attitude Toward Practiceby Joe DeLeRee, Phoenix, AZBang! The game is over and the Cortez Colts have defeated the Greenway Demons by a propitious score of 42 to 0! The game featured a salient effort by the Cortez defense. Despite the disputes they had in the pre-season, it seems as though they ironed out the wrinkles. These extraordinary young men will have a tremendous season because they have shown the ability to learn from their mistakes. Throughout the pre-season, we worked hard, creating positive momentum for our team to feed on. "That's the way to do it, guys! Keep it up!" Coach Roberson would scream, running down the sidelines with a smile bigger than Europe and teeth as white as the freshly fallen snow in flawless Flagstaff. But every time we got to a high level of intensity in our practices, something would go terribly wrong. One of our key players would get hurt, or someone would fail a class and have to miss important games. Then, with all confidence lost, we would have to start over, recovering from these problems. Our coach would then say, with the deepest sincerity, "Let's pick it up, guys. We have the talent to be champions; we just have to work that way," hoping this would inspire us to work harder. He knew something we could not understand: if we pushed ourselves in practice, we could become more competitive than past Cortez football teams."With everyone working together and striving as teammates, not just individuals," Jason said, as the team gathered for a break, "we could achieve our dream - the regional championship!" We did reach that goal, by coming to practice ready and willing to became better (both physically and mentally) than last practice.Our coach would comment on our excitement before every practice. "I love it! Seeing you guys so pumped up makes me feel tremendous." He thought it astonishing that we were so excited to participate in another practice filled with painful drills. If we left the drill without feeling pain, we knew we weren't working hard enough. Also, at the end of practice, we would do conditioning drills until we could not even walk. Through all the pain, we wanted to show our coach how dedicated we were to our team and our teammates.The games where we enjoyed a large margin of victory were the signs that we strenuously worked for during each practice. At the end of the season, we had our banquet.We watched a highlight film that showed all the high and low points of the season. Then, at the end, the coach had inspiring words for all of us: "Well, we had some good times and some bad ones. You set some goals and achieved them. That is what we asked for, but you took it farther than that. You were victorious. No matter, win, lose or draw, in my eyes, you were always victorious. The only way we had a season like this was to practice the way you played - like champions!" l
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.