The Day Lisa Lost
I love sports. Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about the many professional
athletes of today who have developed a me-first attitude, after being
raised in a win-at-all-cost generation. A generation where role models are
severely lacking, and most of the headlines that capture our attention are
of those athletes who are in trouble.
No, I am talking about high school sports, where lessons of life are
still being learned, and where athletes still compete for the love of the
game and their teammates.
I know some of you are thinking, "The high school athletes of today
are just as bad!" And you would be partially right. The me-first attitude
is trickling down into the high school and junior high athletes.
But in the midst of all of this is a young lady from Wisconsin.
I first met Lisa Kincaid on the volleyball court as she played for a
rival high school in the conference I coach in. Many times I was on the
opposing sidelines and could only watch in awe at her athleticism. The
speed of a cheetah, the mental toughness of veteran, and a 32 inch vertical
jump! (Unheard of for a high school girl. And she was only a sophomore!)
Starting her junior year, I was fortunate enough to coach Lisa on a
USA Junior Olympic Volleyball team, and it was during these two years that
my wife and I grew to love and respect her.
If anyone had a right to be cocky or proud of herself it was Lisa.
Besides being one of the best volleyball and basketball players in the
state, she became a track legend in the Dairy State. How good was she?
She went 64 straight conference meets and never lost in any event she was
entered in. She made trips to the state finals all four years she was in
high school, and came away with 6 state titles. Many times she was the
lone representative at the state competition for her team, and would
single-handedly place her high school as high as third. While she excelled
in the triple jump, long jump, 100, and 200 meter dashes, there were times
when her coach needed her to fill in for other events. One particular day
he asked her to run the 300 meter hurdles. She had never competed in this
event before, but the coach needed her that day for the good of the team.
How did she do? She not only won, she set the school record in the first
and only time she competed in that event!
Never once did she ever brag about her accomplishments. In fact she
felt uncomfortable talking about her achievements and would usually steer
the conversation away from her and to the performances of her younger
sisters or other teammates.
There was one particular track meet during Lisa's junior year where
she impressed upon me what is still good about sports these days.
It was a non-conference meet late in the year and Lisa's coach told
her he needed her to run the mile. Lisa had never done so, but agreed to
do what was best for the team.
Lisa easily outdistanced the competition, but on the last lap, she
"seemed" to grow "tired." Two athletes from the other team passed her,
and then so did Julie, Lisa's teammate. She was "able to stay just behind"
her teammate and cross the finish line at Julie's heels.
Lisa "lost" an event for the first time in her track career.
You see, athletes in Lisa's track program need to earn a set amount of
points in order to earn a varsity letter. Lisa knew that Julie, who was a
senior, needed to finish at least third to earn a letter for the first
time. Lisa also knew that the two athletes on the other team were most
likely going to beat Julie, if they ran anywhere near the times they had
been running all year, but that barring an injury during the race, Julie
was a lock to finish third.
But that was until the coach entered Lisa in the event. Lisa
remembered all this as she lined up for the start of that race, and I had
often wondered why she had a slight smile on her face after having lost for
the first time ever.
After four years of working hard, Julie finally received her first
varsity letter, and helped her team win the meet.
And Lisa? On that day that she lost -- she earned my respect and
admiration, and in my mind, she solidified herself as the role model this
generation sorely needs.
Copyright © 1999 by Michael T. Powers
[ by: Michael T. Powers Copyright © 1999 (HeartTouchers@aol.com) -- submitted by: Michael T. Powers ]
All Rights Reserved.