Tag Archives: goal

NHIAA Hockey: Div. II Final: Bow Hands Keene First Loss, 4-2

SNHU arena, Manchester, NH – 03/11/17

#2 Bow (17-2-1) vs. #1 Keene (18-0) – Division II Championship

Mettlesome and gritty are a pair of words that come to mind when I look to describe the Bow Falcons in their game this afternoon. See, Bow entered the tournament as the #2 seed, and they owned an awesome regular season record of 15-2-1. As these kind of things often work themselves out, the pair of losses for Bow came at the hands of this afternoon’s opponent, the Keene BlackBirds. Bow lost to Keene 3-0 just before Christmas, and then they lost again, 5-3 in mid-February. In today’s Division II State Championship game, the #1 BlackBirds (18-0) looked to remain undefeated, and cap their perfect season with their first ever hockey title. Though, as we have learned over the years, in sports, and in rivalries, it is very difficult to beat a good opponent three straight times, especially in the same season. Today was no different. Continue reading

NHIAA Hockey: Div. II Semi-Finals, It’ll Be 1 vs. 2

The Rinks at Exeter, Exeter, NH – 03/08/17

Mumbled and garbled audio aside, the atmosphere in Exeter was electric. The Bow student section was in place early. The Windham throngs seemed to show up at exactly the same time. Keene packed their side with orange and black. St. Thomas showed their various blues. Before long the seats were full. The areas all around the glass where people were allowed to stand, were accounted for. The crowds for all of the Final Four teams were loud, present, and noticeable. Despite my hometown Grizzlies being absent from the semifinals, it was fun to watch some good high school hockey. Storylines run in every direction when there are a few of us, or more, gathered at events like these. Then, there comes the time when the game is played, and legends are born. Continue reading

How bad do you want it?

Maybe it’s just me, but, doesn’t it often seem like the degree to which we go after certain things in life, the things we would have battled our parents over, or defend to the hilt with our spouses, contradicts what is best for us? We lose ourselves in something that should be lower on our priority list, if on it at all. Or at least our priorities at times if rated one through ten, would be inversely rated as to what would be best for us at that time. Like I said, maybe it’s just me. How bad do you want it? How long will it last you? What more can you do if you have it? What will you have to give up to get it? Before I get carried away asking too many questions let me narrow this down a bit.

The good things in life, the good people, the good times worth passing on, the good that helps others, the good that gives back, the selfless act that helps someone just because you can, the betterment of one’s self, etc. These are things I think most people would agree are worth pursuing. Yet, the situation one often finds themselves faced with, would determine, perhaps, the relentlessness necessary to pursue such a thing or result. In other words, staying on the course you’re on might be the easy way and maybe it even means nominal success for you. Although, you feel or maybe even know that a change, or a rise to your own challenge could mean a whole new level of success. Yet there you stay. I mean if it’s good for you, good for others, helpful to many, etc. then shouldn’t we go after it? We often times do not though, we get caught up in complacency, the trivial, or what is easiest, and put we stand. I have been guilty of these actions, or lack thereof, myself. We all have at some point for some reason.

This is about going out and getting it. No excuses. No settling for what is easily available. Fight for it. The biggest fight is often with ourselves to actually change our own direction. We have all heard it said that the human mind is powerful, or that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. It’s true though. Even though every day it seems that some human or manual function has been replaced by something automated or something a robot can do. People still make the world go ’round. The human element is the most powerful force this side of God, and the human mind is the most powerful asset we humans have. So unleash your mind to achieve those things that are worth achieving. Don’t get caught up or bogged down with the things that don’t matter at the end of the day. It matters not how big or small that achievement or goal is, more important is your will to reach it. “They” say it’s not the dog in the fight, rather it’s the fight in the dog. “They”, say and do a lot of things. So when all is said and done and the stories are told, don’t be the one telling the stories about what “they” said or what “they” achieved, be the story.

I write this as a challenge to myself as well. There are things I need to do. Some achievements that must be achieved for the greater good. Dramatic sounding or not, it’s my truth, and I know I am not alone. If you read this and there’s an obstacle you wish you could overcome, or an outcome you would rather see, or even a different ending to your own life story, then we’re in this together.

There have been more times than I would care to admit that I froze and let something happen or I let a scenario continue, something that I felt passionately about, but did nothing at all. I came so close to throwing in the towel on many occasions, instead I hung in there. I know God has a plan for me, a plan for us all, and I wasn’t ready to give up on whatever that plan is. What it really comes down to is, how bad do you want it? A follow-up question you can ask yourself is, will it help anyone but you? For me, it’s a check and balance as to how important the situation should be. We all feel good when we do something nice for ourselves, but don’t we all feel infinitely better when we do something for someone else? There’s not much, if anything, better than giving of one’s self for another. Remember, we are the most powerful force this side of God, and when we are able and willing to give of ourselves to help others, then that’s powerful stuff, and it’s why it feels so good.

There are most certainly times when we need to push ourselves to be the best version of ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. By bettering ourselves, and committing to a higher level of performance in an area, we often help others by relieving them of duties we should be handling on our own. God has a plan. We don’t know how long we have here on earth, we don’t know what’s going to happen to us, to our loved ones, and so on. So we should make the most of it, yes? Hey, none of us are perfect, and I know writing words is easier said than done. I also know that we have more control than we think.

If you want it to change, then change your thinking, and do something about it. Focus not on the thing or things holding you back. We all have a million excuses for why we can’t. Open your mind and let it flow. Find little reasons to do what needs to be done if you can’t find the big reasons yet.  Be true to yourself, be true to your character, and those are two fewer battles you will have to fight right off the bat. There are things in life you can be passive about; doing right and doing that which needs to be done would be a couple of examples when passive will set you further behind. Half of this is knowing yourself and where you can push and where you can’t. One of the best things I have learned, an continue to learn, is myself. That will be a topic for another time.

Get in there, mix it up, roll up your sleeves, and work at it. You can do it. You can do that thing. You can be that person. You can be that example. You can be that picture of health. You have so much to give. Just when you think you have given all you have, ask yourself again, and I bet you have more to give. You are powerful either way so make it count. It’s up to you. How bad do you want it?

The Team

Baseball undoubtedly will fill lots of space on this site. It’s what I know, it’s one of the things I dearly love. Today is about team. Just team, baseball team, any sports team, work team, whatever team. I know from team’s I have played on, and more team’s I have been close to, that there are not many things better as a player than being able to look up and down your bench and know that they all got your back. You’ve got theirs and so it goes from player 1 through 25. Look at the playoff teams playing right now and win or lose, these teams are together battling, for the better of the team, playing roles in some cases so they can be a part of the team. The team…the team.

Sometimes we get to pick our team. We get to pick ourselves and who else will be on our team with us. Most times though, we don’t get to pick our team. We get placed on a team, or start with a new team that yesterday we weren’t on but tomorrow we lead or are a part of. In team sports you would like to think that, aside from talent, there wouldn’t be much difference in the team dynamic from one to another. There is though. There’s a lot of difference from one to the next. You hear it all the time. A player goes from one city to another and talks about the culture or atmosphere being so different from one place to another. Aside from maybe, personalities, along with talent, especially in sports, there shouldn’t be such a difference.

I wonder how Mike Aviles feels about team now. He was traded from Kansas City to Boston during the season, which was a total surprise to him. He was happy though, for the chance to come and be a part of a perennial winner, a winning team. Can you imagine what he must be thinking now? He most likely took a lesser role in Boston to be a part of something big. It turned out to be big alright; one of the biggest collapses in baseball history. He valued the team concept so much he gave up some personal goals perhaps and ended up on a team that didn’t even value their own team members.

Take comfort in knowing that you are committed to the team, and being it is a team, then the other members must also value the concept as you do, right? I mean we’re all on a team to reach a goal, yes? Not always. Maybe not even often. This is one of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, why the difference can be so huge from one place to the next. You work your tail off to be a better version of you and at the same time it makes the team better right? Well you would think so. Not everyone is in the competition for the team. Many compete strictly for themselves, which is fine, unless of course you are on a team.

The best team’s I ever played for or ever watched were the ones who understood that it does take every member to win or to reach the teams’ goal. Look at that last sentence … “I ever played for”… that’s right, played for, played for the team. For the team. Played for something greater than myself, played for the team. I make a point with that because even the way the words are written or spoken denotes how one feels about the team in a sense. Players retire and they talk about what they miss most, and it’s almost always the team, the camaraderie that they miss the most. The feeling when you know your teammate has your back and when you can’t wait to come through for your team. I mean it’s kind of cool to know that you were there in the heat of competition thinking the same things, feeling the same pressures, matching the intensity with one another, sharing the highs and lows with this team that were all trying to accomplish the same thing. To me, there’s not much better or more pure than that.

When you are on a team that gets it and all members are on board it’s a beautiful thing. It’s so genuine and truly selfless. You can be in the dugout while your teammate is at bat with the game on the line, and you feel what he feels, your know the situation, you know the intensity, you feel it, you share it, you breathe it, and you believe in him. But it’s not just him, you believe in the team. And when that player gets the hit to win it and you explode out of the dugout, just as happy as if you had delivered the big hit, to congratulate him and your teammates, it’s not about you. It’s about the team. The team won, we all just won, all of us, not just the guys getting the hit or scoring the run, we won. That’s team.

Teams are often a diverse collection of talent, experience, personality, skills, and character. The best teams have a mix of everything and figure out who and what is best used when and where. This next piece seems to be harder and harder to find, but I am going to break it down anyways because it’s true, and honestly I miss it myself. One part of team is being together, not for the social aspect, but for a common goal. Lots of time together practicing, waiting, relaxing, competing, etc. So many, many, moments for the team to teach its members and set them up to pass it on. The experienced work with the talented to better develop specific skills. The character assists the personality with the image the team projects. The youth and less experienced push the experienced to be better at their skills as they age, all while the personality and energy are refreshed. Ultimately the experienced leave it in the hands of the next generation having passed on their talents, experience, and importance of character. It’s like a big family really. Every night at the dinner table of practice and bonding, filling up to be strong for competition. There’s plenty of time in the living room of waiting for your turn to play or relaxing between victories. There’s the house and yard of the daily grind where tempers flare, lessons are taught and learned, and the team is molded by its leadership. Then there’s Sunday dinner of the game when everyone dresses their best, bows their head, tipping their caps with reverence as they partake in the highlight of the week, the moments relished by all.

It’s a beautiful thing when it works the way it’s supposed to. We don’t forget those teams, the ones we played for, or the ones we watched, there was, and is, something different about them. Those teams stand out and they’re hard not to cheer for. I remember one such team I played for many years ago. Back then I was more the youth being taught by experience to hone my talents into better skills, but I was also character helping mold our image on the field and how we carried ourselves. We were not the most talented or skilled team by a mile, but we played well together, never counted ourselves out, and wanted it more than most. We were hundreds of miles from home with just a few there to watch us play. As we pulled off one improbable win after another in all kinds of weather, from snow showers during one game, a frost covered field one morning, and some serious heat in others, we remained poised. We were excited and half of us couldn’t believe we already had done so well, still we acted like we’d been there before. We had a couple come back wins that were nothing short of miracles, where we simply willed ourselves to victory.

As these victories added up, and even though my memory isn’t as good as others, there are two things that really stood out to me. One: it was taking literally everyone on the roster to contribute something to our victories in almost every game. Two: every team but one that we beat, sincerely congratulated us, and then they (and their fans) would come cheer for us in the next games we played in the tournament. We were hundreds of miles from home where (seriously) several people thought New Hampshire was a town north of Boston and we had more fans than anyone else as we got deep into the tournament.

Before we knew it we were playing in the winner’s bracket final of a National Championship. We lost that game to a better team. Another memorable team in my mind. I actually cried after we lost that game knowing we had left nothing on the field and feeling spent. As I sat between a couple of boyhood friends on the team, we talked, trying to get back up emotionally, players from teams we’d beaten and their families filed by and encouraged us. Perfect strangers trying to pick us up in a moment after a tough loss. It speaks well of those people and also shows how our team had earned the respect of our competitors so much so that they were compelled to come watch us play and cheer us on. We rebounded and won the loser’s bracket final against a team that might have been twice as good as we were if there were a way to measure such things. I still don’t know how we won that game, but by the time it ended I think everyone on our roster had played and the guys getting the big hits and making the big plays had started on the bench. It was unbelievable.

We lined up on the base lines for our National Anthem, and exchanged hand shakes and “good luck” to the only team that had beat us. We were playing for the National Championship. It was a good game, maybe a great game, as both teams defied the other to get hits and runs. The defense was the best of the tournament. Ultimately we lost the game, and finished second. When I looked at that team and watched them compete, and later, get their awards I saw another version of our team with a little more skill. But they were gracious, they were wiped out, they sincerely savored the victory of a hard-fought battle. It’s the only time in my 20+ years of playing that I actually exchanged jerseys with the other team. We all did. Then another thing that doesn’t usually happen, we all just gathered together, both teams for a picture with most of us now wearing the other teams jerseys. Memorable.

These were two teams, like families I detailed earlier, only these two teams were distant relatives that belonged in the moment together, and when that moment came, neither wanted to leave it. True to my vow to be a good teammate, this was the best tournament I ever played in. Statistically it wasn’t even in my top ten tournaments for me personally, but it wasn’t and still isn’t about me. It was, it is, and should always be, about the team.