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Nothing cures a team's ills like a victory

November 16, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

We live in a world of quick fixes and miracle cures.

Drink this to lose weight. Buy that to make you feel better. And try this to win a fortune.

I'm no scientist, but I think I've stumbled onto a universal potion to remedy everything.

It's an aphrodisiac that creates a special, undying love. It's Novocain to deaden every ache and pain. It's the laser surgery to make the world look better. It's the nutrition bar to provide extra energy. And it's the ultimate mood enhancers.

It's better than chocolate, stronger than alcohol and so concentrated that one drop can last a lifetime, yet, it's nothing new.

It's called winning.

Sports people are addicted to large dosages of winning. We routinely report, look for and ask "Who won" and "Who lost." It's an incurable craving.

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For athletes and coaches, it's the "high" they can't live without. They put in long hours of work and practice and cope with injuries just for the chance for a small taste of success. Few things are sweeter and unforgettable.

Ten days ago, the Boonsboro football team found a bit of the potion. The Warriors traveled to Smithsburg for their season finale which seemed to be a trip to nowhere.

For traditionalists, this game was important. It was the 38th renewal of a heated rivalry.

For realists, it was 48 minutes to an end. Boonsboro entered the game with a 3-6 record, winning three of their previous four games to get there. Across the way was Smithsburg, with an 8-1 mark and a ticket to the Maryland Class 1A Playoffs in hand. On paper, it was the Leopards in a walk.

But traditionalists and realists don't wear helmets.

On this day, Boonsboro played a fabulous second half, turning a game it probably shouldn't have been in into their swig of secret potion.

Boonsboro broke a 14-14 halftime tie in improbable fashion, scoring the first three touchdowns of the second half to take a 22-point lead. Smithsburg rallied but fell short, losing 36-30 in the end.

Suddenly, Boonsboro jumped out of its solar eclipse of a season and basked in the sunshine. It was like the casual golfer's one good shot that makes him look forward to the next round.

It was so meaningful Clayton Anders, Boonsboro's usually stoic coach, became slightly emotional as pride overcame him.

He headed the team's usual post-game gathering on the 20-yard line - the final one of the season and the last one ever for Boonsboro's seniors. After that last pep talk, the Warriors took knees while holding hands for a longer and more meaningful prayer of thanks.

The Warriors then leaped to their feet and raised their helmets in one last celebratory cheer. Anders made sure Boonsboro savored the moment, coaxing the entire team to sing the school fight song while standing on Smithsburg's field.

It didn't matter where they were or how off key it sounded, it felt good.

"We talked this week and told the kids that we can't fix any of the games before," Anders said. "This was our playoff game. There is nothing better about finishing 4-6 than winning the last game to do it."

About that time, Anders made a quick move to the left, just avoiding the water-cooler shower that is usually saved for championship scenes. Like in the game, the Warriors didn't give up and caught the coach on the second attempt.

The thrill of victory changed the scene. Here was Boonsboro, the team going nowhere, enjoying the moment while Smithsburg, the team that could still go places, trudged from the field with heads down. The only consolation was the Leopards would live to play another day for a chance at the same feeling - the feeling most Warriors will never be able to describe, but will savor for a lifetime.

That kind of revelry is becoming rare. Athletes everywhere enjoy fewer of those moments because in this era when school budgets swell, athletics are usually one of the first things rumored to be cut to keep money in education. Players and their families are being forced to pay more for the right to play, dream and experience.

Athletics - especially on the high school level - are an amazing conditioner in the development of young people. Winning - and losing - and the chance to experience both helps shape so many aspects of life.

But like any wonder drug, winning can have nasty side effects.

We love and worship undefeated and championship teams. We put them on a pedestal and then act surprised when those successful athletes disappoint us with their attitudes and lack of compassion.

We look down on losing teams, ridiculing their abilities while wondering why they wasted their time. Failure brings a lack of confidence that can be difficult to cope with.

So maybe our love for champions is misplaced. Boonsboro's Warriors showed that in their actions.

Perennial winners get cocky. Consistent losers get complexes. But teams like Boonsboro might be the true champions.

They found out that when you win some and you lose some, you learn to handle both ends of the success-failure spectrum. When you understand how to lose, you relish winning all the more.

And that's the miracle cure of the ages.




Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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