The season begins with workouts and high hopes. Players compete for starting spots and coaches strategize to squeeze every inch of talent out of their team. Weeks and months of games, wins and losses, till it all comes down to the post-season. Year after year for nearly every team this is how it goes down. Some of them win, most of them lose. Teams with the most talent usually win. In the professional ranks, teams with a mixture of talent, experience and grit usually win. Then there are those teams who overcome something. A teammate's wife dies. A coach gets cancer. A team member gets injured, allowing for the rest of the team to step up pulling everyone closer together. An extra boost is derived from that adversity, making an already good team into a championship team.
The team from the University of Louisville is the latest to endure such adversity. By now we've all seen the video of Kevin Ware jumping to block a shot, then coming down awkwardly on his leg, compound fracturing it. Early in the NFL Playoffs, Ray Lewis announced he would retire after the Ravens season was over. The Colts head coach Chuck Pagano announced he had cancer and would be undergoing chemotherapy in hope that he would be able to come back late in the season. Each of these teams underwent a mental change when tragedy struck and each of them succeeded. They were good before, but once they became forced to fight for a trandscendent goal they became almost unbeatable.
The season is long and arduous. Teams endure adversity in the natural course of every season. Sports are adverse by definition. Competition is adversity between opponents playing and fighting toward the same goal; Winning. So what is it about these teams whom are forced to overcome additional painful circumstances? Why does it appear a team with a greater purpose or a tragic story have the advantage or seem like the team of destiny? A Diamond is created with immense pressure over a long time. A Great Team is created with a common mindset and a common goal.
This is what every coach must cultivate in his or her team. They must create chemistry. You can't just tell players where they have to be, you have to tell them why. You have to give them a purpose. Coaches like Jim Valvano & Vince Lombardi told a story. They inspired their players. Teams with talent lose all the time. The teams who finish the regular season with the most wins, routinely lose in the playoffs. We always hear the sayings, "The team who gets hot at the right time is going to win." Or "the team playing it's best come playoff time will win."
Coaches with great knowledge and X & O superiority pray for it. Ask any coach what they prefer: A team with great talent or a team with great purpose? Now of course no matter how much purpose a team like the Chicago Cubs have, it doesn't really matter. But even the Cubbies can be inspired. Someone or something has to create purpose for them. A coach will never admit it, but when he or she has a really good team, they almost hope for some kind of adversity. No matter if it's traumatic or trivial, every coach prays for something to bring their team closer together. The Great Ones can create it themselves. The good ones can only hope for it. The ok ones, it happens and they can't explain or understand it.
Leaders of men and women need to inspire. They must understand what brings people together and what drives them apart. A team without a purpose is a team without hope. Whether it happens by accident or a coach is able to create it, adversity always binds a team and gives them the edge. And it doesn't take a death or a tragedy that touches many people. A great coach will find a commonality in their team. A great coach will look his players in the eyes and uncover that hidden beast. America is the country of Great Coaching. Our People and our Constitution inspire our greatness. Capitalism is our system of immense pressure and competition. Through it all, we strive to find our ways. We strive to inspire ourselves and others. Our lives are hard but we perservere through the stress to achieve well beyond our means. So to every coach looking for inspiration, you need to use your imagination. Or show up to practice on crutches....