Mark Dantonio after the MSU vs. Penn State game – “I don’t want to get too philosophical for you, but I think mankind in general responds to adversity. When they see something happens to them negatively, you can either go in the hole and bury yourself or you can fight your way out of the hole a little bit. You can go back to work.”
Sometimes sports and real life collide. Life makes more sense to me when different facets of my life connect. Yesterday was one of those days.
This is the 37th consecutive season I’ve been part of a sports team as either a player or a coach. Those seasons range from the youth level to varsity to college. Yikes, that’s a lot. What I’ve learned during those 37 seasons is that sports mirrors life in many ways, but maybe none more than the adversity it puts you through. Wins, losses, injuries, chemistry troubles, parent issues, ups, and downs – are all common – even in the best of seasons. When I see my kids play sports, that is what I see. There are many things I’m not good at, but being a sports parent is a strength of mine. All of those 37 seasons play a big role in that. I don’t worry about how many points my kid scores, I’m not tracking it on a piece of paper in the crowd. I’m not worried about college scholarships. When my daughter persists through a shooting drill, I see her persisting through a tough marriage. When I see my son react to a teammate who has made a mistake, I think about how he might be as a collaborative teammate in the workplace. I see life, not just sports in the moment. The ability to be resilient in the face of the most adverse situations was the difference between the most and least successful teams I’ve been a part of.
Well, that sounds an awful lot like our personal lives. Adversity comes flying at us every day. For some of us, that adversity can be self-imposed due to choices we have made, I’ve been there. At other times, it’s just what life throws at us. I’ve been there, too. My bet is you have adversity in your life right now, have had some in your past, or have some that will be coming towards you soon. What type of resiliency you have will allow you to respond and recover, or dwell and erode. The ability to be resilient in the face of the most adverse situations has been the difference between some of the least and most successful people I’ve ever met.
Back to Coach D and the dumpster fire that was the 2016 MSU football season and the resurgence that is the 2017 MSU football season. “Mankind in general responds to adversity.” His quote after the game spoke to all the negative the program went through for 18 months. Some of that was self-imposed by the MSU staff and players. But at some point, the circumstances don’t matter. You find yourself in that hole. You get to choose to stay there or dig yourself out. Coach D relies heavily on his faith in those situations. He handed kicker Matt Coughlin a small prayer card yesterday before he kicked a game-winning field goal. It’s who he is. Maybe that’s the same for you, maybe it isn’t. Maybe for you, it’s a family member or a friend. I’ve had times in my life that felt like the 2016 MSU football season. My faith, friends, family, and an ability to be resilient helped dig me out of that hole. Daily reminders hang around my neck and are tattooed down my spine. Kind of like that prayer card that Coach D just so happened to have yesterday. That has meant better days ahead for me, kind of like MSU football 2017. Life makes more sense to me when different facets of my life connect. Yesterday was one of those days.
Life, Adversity, Sports, Resiliency, Mark Dantonio and Faith.