The final horn sounds and a feeling of emptiness creeps in. The locker room is full of tears. Suddenly, this is it. This is the last time this team, this group of individuals, will share a locker room together. They all knew it was a possibility, but no one wanted it to happen. Four months. Over fifty practices. At least 25 games.
And now it’s all over…
A high school junior just had the biggest and best game of her short career. She had only been playing basketball for three years, but had come a long way, especially in her first varsity season. The season had its ups and downs like most do. She started some games, came off the bench for others, played a lot, played a little, and everything in between. However, her story is what high school sports are all about.
The girl and her teammates are crushed. They wanted to win, so badly. They had completed a successful, winning regular season, and we’re one game away from the district championship. But it wasn’t meant to be this year. There’s only one team in the state who doesn’t lose their last game, but that doesn’t take the sting away.
In the coming moments, days, and weeks the players will begin to realize what the coaches knew all along:
“It’s all about the cake.”
It’s not about the icing. It’s about the cake, man.
Later in the evening, the coach received an email from the mother of the girl who had just played her best game. It was exactly what the coach needed to see after losing the game earlier that night. He was proud of his team and this particular player, but was sad the season was over.
The parent’s email was extremely kind and sincere. She thanked him for all he had done, for encouraging her daughter, and bringing out the best in her. She was proud of her daughter for coming so far. She was proud of the heart and desire to win for her teammates her daughter had just displayed.
It brought a tear to my eye when I read this email. And it made the sting of defeat go away. I didn’t respond to the email until the following morning. I’m normally good with words (hence this blog) but I was at a loss after receiving this kind and sincere email.
The next morning, I forwarded it to my assistant and told him he deserves just as much credit for the work he put in with this player, and the team. We sent a few exchanges back and forth about how much the words from this parent meant.
And then he sent the wisdom which was the inspiration for this post, “that’s what it’s all about. It’s about the cake, man. Not the icing.”
He’s dead on. I love phrase and it’s message.
The icing is all of the awards, trophies, and accolades. Sure, we enjoy the icing, but if we only had the icing we’d be sick. Yes, we absolutely play to win, coach to win, desperately want to win a district title and advance in the state playoffs. But’s that’s not why we coach.
“A lifetime of frustration is inevitable for any coach whose main enjoyment is winning.”
We coach to build champions on and off the court. We coach to build meaningful relationships with our athletes. We coach to positively impact their lives.
And that my friends is the cake. That’s what it’s all about. Trophies collect dust. People and relationships last a lifetime. The impact we can have on a HS athlete could have ripple effects in their family for generations.
What an honor and privilege to have.
It’s all about the cake, man.
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.