Friday, May 21, 2010

A Place in History

"Great moments are born with great opportunity, that’s what we have here…that’s what we’ve earned game…if we played them 10 times they might win 9 but not this game…not tonight, tonight we run with them…tonight we stay with them and we shut them down…because we can!"

Coach Herb Brooks/1980 US Olympic Hockey Team

My son posted this quote a couple of weeks ago just prior to one of his final games at Colonial Forge High was meant as a motivational piece back in 1980 and was used as such for his game...I saw it work...the past coming back to motivate the present...great quotes have the ability to motivate...and this is one that does that!

I received an email yesterday from a good friend in New York…Rosemary Reeves. She sent a link to a New York Times article about West Point and its lacrosse team and how they shut down a national powerhouse to advance within the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament. The link is posted below for those that want to read it.

What you will take from the article is not how one team beat another…that happens everyday…what you will gain is insight into what it takes to win at life…perseverance, dedication and determination…for those attributes will help overcome adversity…whether it be on the lacrosse field or the battlefield…or anywhere in between. It’s a poignant article and one that calls for reflection and pause given everything that is going on in the world today.

Now for those of you who have not followed lacrosse closely let me set the stage for you…a major milestone happened last weekend at the NCAA Playoff’s…West Point beat the defending National Champions Syracuse. To put this in layman’s perspective…since the NCAA tournament began in 1971, Syracuse has been the champion 10 times, more than any other school and West Point has never reached the finals. Add to the aforementioned that Syracuse has won 14 of the teams’ last 15 meetings and you can see why West Point’s victory has been lauded by many as the biggest upset in college lacrosse history.

This Saturday on the hallowed ground that is West Point seven seniors out of a graduating class of over 1000 will soon take another step in there life and ascend to the rank of Second Lieutenant…those same fine men will later “suit up” to play the next game in the tournament…but win loose or draw they have already achieved what many thought could not be done…a place in history.

I have written before that Hollywood is often times considered a microcosm of what is actually happening in life around us. This victory last week draws many similarities from some of the great sports movies presented in the past…but three for me stand out:

1. On Any Given Sunday where Al Pacino, as an aging coach, delivers what many consider to be the most iconic and motivational speech ever in a locker-room environment just prior to taking on the division champions;
2. Miracle where coach herb Brooks takes the 1980 US Olympic Ice Hockey past the USSR…considered to be the worlds best at the time…all the way to the gold medal
3. The Replacements with Gene Hackman and a fictitious Washington DC football team who during a strike period use a comical amalgamation of players to capture the division title against what could only be characterized as insurmountable odds

Now the core difference in what happened last weekend at West Point versus the Hollywood scenarios presented above…many of these cadets who play lacrosse…and the faithful legions of others that watch…will not go on to make movies or simply wait for the next opportunity…they will find themselves fighting in far off lands so that future generations can enjoy the same freedoms and dreams that took place last weekend on a lacrosse field as part of a national tournament…and to me…that means a whole lot more then the Hollywood version.

I spoke briefly about perseverance, dedication and determination earlier in this posting…for those that have never experienced the “cadet life” …it can be a tough road …yet a very rewarding one... and while college contemporaries are attending parties and sleeping in, the men and women of West Point are learning one more valuable quality that separates them from all the others…discipline.

What the West Point team did last week was not only show courage…but they also showed discipline. As a sports official I have seen underdogs come back and win; conversely I have seen powerhouse teams loose it in the last period of a championship game. In either case it comes down to discipline…and that is something that is taught at West Point. For all the hours of walking the “Quad” … for all the hours learning the “Code” … for all the hours learning your role and responsibility as a citizen, as a cadet and as an Officer in the United States Army…it takes discipline…and that is what those fine men showed last weekend in knocking of the perennial favorite and national powerhouse Syracuse…they showed discipline.

Space would limit the accolades one could bestow upon these players…but they would never want it…for those that choose the life of the military don’t do it because they want or need notoriety…they do it for other reasons; love of country; service to a nation; a calling. The win last week will forever be etched into their minds and will become the catalyst for how these fine men will lead future engagements overseas…with a drive and vision towards perseverance, dedication and determination and yes …discipline.

Well done gentlemen…well done!

Brian Hayes

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