‘IGNORE THE HATERS’
I coach junior varsity girls soccer at Findlay High School. We consistently field a strong, competitive team.
One of the other schools in our league struggles, and we beat them every year by a large margin.
One thing we have always noticed is the wonderful sportsmanship that their team and coach exhibits at the JV level, despite being on the losing side of the game.
Last year, my full-time goalkeeper played forward during that game and when she finally scored a goal (her first in 6 years or so) the other team’s players clapped and cheered for her.
This year, we noticed that they had a young new JV coach and she was very encouraging to her team, constantly coaching them and giving words of encouragement from the sideline throughout the game.
After the game, we went through the good game line and I shook her hand and told her that I wanted to commend her on the sportsmanship her girls exhibited and to let her know that I noticed her effort on the sideline.
Her eyes filled with tears and she told me that one of the parents from her team had come over after the game and yelled at her and told her she was a terrible coach.
Before I could respond, my team circled back after shaking hands with the referees and saw the opposing team’s coach in tears. One of my captains immediately stepped up and gave her a hug, which was followed by my entire team, all 17 of them, giving this coach a group hug and telling her they thought she was great and to “ignore the haters.”
My own eyes filled with tears, and I’ve never been more proud in my life. Sure, we just won a league game, but more than winning, my girls exhibited the true definition of sportsmanship. Despite all the great things we accomplished on and off the pitch, that was my favorite moment from the season.