The “What” and the “How”

IMG_8949Recently I was honored to spend a significant amount of time with the Thomas Worthington Girls Field Hockey team which won the 2015 Ohio High School Athletic Association State Championship in November.  As Superintendent of Schools I’m removed from the day to day activities of our teams so it’s been a joy for me to get to know some of these young ladies and their families.  In addition, I’ve had the unique opportunity to speak publicly about this team.  In preparing to speak about the team I kept coming back to one overriding thought.  It’s not the “what” but the “how.”

As a school district, and as a community, we’re incredibly proud of what these young ladies accomplished this season.  They won the state championship!  They completed an undefeated season!  Six different players scored in the state tournament! They allowed no shots on goal in the state final.  The “what” was truly remarkable.  But the “what” is not what we’re most proud of.  What we’re most proud of is the “how.”

How do you you win a state championship?  How do you win three state championships since 2007?  How do you dominate the state tournament?  The “how” is what I’m most proud of and from my vantage point it’s two main parts.  First, this team just plain outworks the teams they play against.  They practice extremely hard and throughout the game they challenge every ball.  Wherever the ball is there is a Cardinal player.  As a team they are completely relentless from whistle to whistle.  If you like sports, it’s a true joy to watch.  To play for the field hockey Cardinals you must compete everyday.  You compete all summer when it’s 95 degrees on the turf and you compete every second you’re on the field.  They work hard!  Second, these young ladies are leaders in the classroom.  They compete in the classroom like they compete on the field.  They are excellent students and they put their academics first.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  These are amazing young ladies, but they’re still high school girls.  They’re not perfect and they don’t do everything right.  But I believe it’s the “how” this team goes about their business that is what can be positive about high school sports.  Learning to work hard, harder than you ever thought was possible, and seeing success for that work is bound to carry over throughout their lives.  And really that’s what matters most.  Their picture will forever hang on the wall at Thomas Worthington High School but it will eventually fade and be covered with dust.  What will stay with them forever is a work ethic and an ability to compete throughout their life.  

In high school sports the “how” is always more important than the “what.”

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