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Not All Champions Win Championships

The ending scoreboard needs its winner and loser, but no single outcome will ever define you.

Hey kiddo,

I know this is not the way you drew it up in your head.

In your head, you and your teammates were throwing your equipment in the air and raising the championship trophy to the rafters for all of us crazy parents to capture with our cellphones. In your mind, you were going to be celebrating with your coaches and friends as champions. 

But instead, you watched it happen from the other end of the ice—or watched what you could with your head hung low.

I know it stings. Seeing the disappointment on your face as you skated back toward the locker room was heartbreaking and feeling the sadness in your postgame hug was gut wrenching. I know how badly you wanted this one, and I would give anything for you to be able to live out your dream.

But let me tell you kiddo, this wasn’t the first tear-jerking loss I’ve witnessed, and I know it won’t be the last.

It may take a little time, but I promise you, that you will move past this loss. The feeling of being oh, so close, may never go away, but eventually, it will be overpowered by fond memories of your team’s journey to this point and experience of the weekend. And what a rush it has been watching you and your team come together the way they did!

I didn’t sign you up for hockey to win championships. In fact, it’s not why you wanted to play to begin with either. I remember it going something like this: 

“Mommy, can I please play hockey with Jack and Lucy? Pleeeeeease.”

While you wanted to get into hockey to play with your friends—a reason I hope always keeps you in the game—believe it or not, I signed you up for these losing moments as much as anything.

I know you’re going to roll your eyes and groan ‘oh mom’ at this one, but I put you into hockey for the life lessons you’re bound to learn along the way (because, yes kiddo, you’re learning something).

Winning is fun, don’t get me wrong. And I want to you enjoy a win and aim for it every chance you get. But winning doesn’t teach you how to grow. It’s the pursuit of success, and the ups and downs along the way, that are the true value of sports.

As we saw with your team this season, it’s easy to be excited to go to the rink, work hard to improve and be a good teammate when your team is rolling. It’s when you face tough losses, challenges and even outright struggle that you really learn about yourself and what it takes to succeed in life.  

So buddy, you lost. And I really wish you didn’t have to feel like you do right now, and I wish you guys were crowned champions because you all worked so darn hard for it. But, with the way you competed to the very end and represented your community, I couldn’t be prouder of you.  

The ending scoreboard needs its winner and loser, but no single outcome will ever define you.

You’re not always going to be on the winning side, no matter how hard you try. But learning to lose with grace, picking yourself and your teammates up and knowing that you tried your hardest is just as big of a reward as a first-place trophy in my mind.

So chin up, kiddo. You guys had an incredible season. Thank you for letting dad and I be a part of it. Win or lose, we can’t wait for next year.

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Ice Hockey

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Sportsmanship Parent Minnesota Hockey