Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

Achievement – something that has been done or achieved through effort; a result of hard work (Merriam and Webster)

Last weekend our high school football season ended. The Tigers were one of eight teams left in their class – one of sixty-four left. When the siren sounded last Saturday afternoon, there were sixteen teams still standing – two teams for each of Illinois’ eight classes from 1A to 8A. The Tigers have been there before and it was the team goal at the beginning of the year. It’s the goal every year. It’s the ultimate Achievement.

High school football season. It was a long season and long journey. It began the day after school let out in June with summer practices and weekend summer 7 on 7 tournaments. There was a three-week break between summer workouts and the beginning of August practices. The break was long enough for W to break away to the cottage and a squeeze in a 50-mile canoe trip to the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota.

The Tigers played twelve games. They lost the first two games, won the third and then, lost the next two games to reach mid-season 1-4. In early October, the playoffs looked unreachable. However, through hard work, determination, and a little good fortune – I am not calling it luck, they won their next four games and qualified for the playoffs and were seeded 13th of 16 teams in one side of the 7A bracket.

Two playoff wins – one on the road and another at home landed them a game against the number one seed on the bracket – at their house on the road.

Along the way the Tigers became a team, the practices became longer more intense, all of the players did what they could to make the team stronger – some like W – practiced hard and didn’t play and knew they wouldn’t play, but did what the team needed, when they needed it.

Last Saturday, they played hard and came up short. They didn’t achieve their ultimate goal – a state championship. But, they succeeded in other ways, they achieved something that few teams and few players achieve in a lifetime – coming together as a team. Last Saturday afternoon, there were twenty-four teams in 7A whose seasons were over and had handed in their equipment and begun dreaming about – next year.

The highlight video is at the bottom of the post, the score was 6-23 and it was a lot closer than the final score indicates. The opposing quarter back spent more time being chased by hungry Tigers and on his back in the game than he did in the previous eleven games. It was 0-2 at the half and the Tigers were close. W makes the video at the end – he’s to the left of the coach after the game. He ran the play calling boards on offense and stood next to the coach the entire game. By the way, the team who defeated us, won again this weekend and plays for the championship next weekend. One of sixteen working toward the ultimate achievement.

W and his teammates have moved on – for W, wrestling season began bright and early Monday morning at 6 AM. W has another year of high school football and then he’ll hang up his cleats forever but hold on to his memories of Friday night lights and learning that working toward a team goal means more than personal glory.

Achievement – something that has been done or achieved through effort; a result of hard work (Merriam and Webster)

I enjoyed watching the Tigers play and grow. I especially enjoyed watching W, sometimes I am too close to the forest to see the trees. But, when I step back and observe, I can see the trees have grown and changed. The kid we watched in June is not the same kid we watched in November, he’s grown and matured, and learned that it’s not all about him, but something greater – the team. I am sure that the seventy or so other kids experienced the same transformation.

Next year, is a long way off but the lessons are fresh. June will be here before I know it and Sunday morning is staring me in the face. I have my own goals to achieve, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one playoff game at a time, one football season at a time, building character and memories along the way.

What lessons about person growth did you learn from being on a team?

Today’s post is in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge prompt on Word Press. It’s a week late, I am in arrears. This week, show us a photo that says “achievement” to you: people meeting a long-worked-for goal. Something tangible you’ve created. A view from a journey you’ve completed, or the stating point of a journey not yet made or a project you hope to finish. We look forward to being inspired!

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