Retrieving The Impossible

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Last fall, my daughter was on a flight from Newark to Burlington, VT. She texted me, “Hey Dad, I’m on a plane with the UMBC soccer team”. Being a college sports fan, I was amazed I had never heard of UMBC. Quick to Google. UMBC – University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Division I. American East Conference. I quickly texted my daughter with my new found information. She texted in return, “Who cares Dad, they’re cute”.

Last Friday they weren’t just cute; they were epic.

Going into their game with top-seeded Virginia, UMBC was trying to become the first #16 seeded team to beat a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Previous #16 seeds were 0-135. It seemed an impossible task. Virginia was the #1 team in the country. UMBC’s point guard is 5”8”. Virginia’s Pack Line defense is one of the best ever. UMBC’s mascot is a golden retriever, for Pete’s sake. There is NO way.

Final score: UMBC 74, Virginia 54.


There are so many teachable moments in a game like this. So many things you can relate to everyday life. Let’s talk about a few:
• Never believe you cannot win the game.
• Sports are fun.
• Every game is a life lesson.


It would have been easy, almost understandable, for the UMBC players to feel they had no chance to win. Head coach Ryan Odom had this to say after the game:
I think kids are being told you can’t do this, you can’t do that, whether it’s in sports or outside sports. What our kids were able to accomplish should be a lesson to everybody. You can do it, man. You just have to put your mind to it and work hard and hopefully good things will happen for you.

Great things happen when you first believe they will happen. As CYC coaches, we should always instill in our kids the belief that they have a chance to be successful if they put forth the effort.


Another great quote from Coach Odom, speaking of his UMBC players:
I take so much joy in watching them smile and not just at the end there, but throughout the game. You know, I think it’s pretty easy to tell, to everybody in the arena, these guys have passion. These guys love to play this game. This game means a lot to them. It’s just a special, special effort.

As a coach, do you notice if your kids are having fun? If they are not, why? CYC sports are supposed to be fun. A coach has the opportunity to make the game fun. A parent can have an impact on whether your kid enjoys the game or dreads the game. If we scream, yell, criticize, and berate our kids during the game, it sucks the joy out the experience. It ceases to be fun. Our kids need to see you enjoying the game and having fun. It’s contagious.


Sports provide the opportunity to teach our kids many life lessons. Virginia Coach Tony Bennett provided all of us with a shining example of how to lose with class and how to see sports in the big picture of life.


Praise the winner. Look for the positive in your team. Understand the big picture. Be accountable for your performance. Maintain composure. Coach Bennett did it all.

Our kids are looking at us, as parents and coaches, to lead in the proper way. They are seeking the right way to act in every situation. They need to see a respectful demeanor displayed at all times. Are we giving our kids what they need? As much fun as it is to win, there is a lot to learn from a loss. Let's get it right!