As the fall season comes to a close and the postseason kicks into full swing, it’s a moment where many of us have to sit back and wonder what is and what can be.
It’s the expectations we create that this column will focus on. For me, a personal and sour note was sung Sunday night when the Kansas City Royals defeated my co-childhood team, the New York Mets. Half my family hails from Point Lookout, New York.
The night rain Sunday encapsulated the feeling many of us Mets fans were going through. We had the chance to go through this eight months ago when this team was an afterthought in the NL East.
“I go into each match expecting that I will win,” USA wrestler and Puyallup High alum Whitney Conder told me a couple weeks ago. “I believe I’ll work harder than my opponents to reach my goals, which is going to the Olympics (next summer).”
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Conder went into the World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas in September expecting a win and instant trip to Rio de Janeiro in the summer. But a second-round loss put Conder on the long track to the Olympics.
“After I lost, I had to re-evaluate myself in how I train,” Conder admitted.
Expectations are tricky things, and often when people don’t reach their own hopes, it’s a painful experience when these aspirations are not met, even when a team does everything it can to reach it.
“All we could do was take care of business, and that was beating Rogers,” Puyallup football coach Gary Jeffers said of his team’s game on Friday night.
Puyallup defeated Rogers, 42-7, on Friday, yet even with the win and a 4-2 league record, the Vikings missed out on the playoffs because of a three-way tie with Curtis (4-2) and Bethel (4-2). Curtis claimed the No. 2 seed and Bethel the No. 3 after the Braves defeated Puyallup in their head-to-head matchup.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’re no longer in a three-way tie,” Jeffers said, referring to the rules that prevented the Vikings from reaching the playoffs. “If we want to guarantee a playoff spot, then we should aim for the league title and make sure we get in.”
When you go into a season, you expect everything could and may happen. And when things don’t go your way, good things can still come about. You just have to look hard enough to find it.
“We want to use the rest of this season to evaluate where we are as a program, especially since we’re bringing a new staff,” Rogers coach Gene Bowen said of his team’s season. “You have to look at what are we doing right and where can we fix ourselves for next year.”
Is a lost season truly a loss?
Those are questions many coaches and athletes must ask themselves. Do they crumble and fall to the way things are going? Or do they pick themselves up and move forward, while using this time to understand themselves and their teams.
It’s a motivation to change yourself for the better, while still vying for that brass ring on this merry-go-round.
Because greatness is a vision, not an achievement. To truly reach one’s expectations, there needs to be a vision in seeing the path before you.
“Athletes who achieve greatness ... they are visionaries,” said USA wrestling coach Shon Lewis, who coaches Conder. “They see the road at the end of the journey, but never lose focus on the present. Athletes who want to achieve greatness set about a road they follow to achieve not only their end goal … you have to understand how each step will help you get there.”