To begin, I want to start with a quick update from my blog last week, which will play nicely into my blog for this week. My blog last week was about renting a van from Enterprise and having them say they were able to put hand controls in the van. They gave me a confirmation, and then, later told me that they couldn’t put hand controls into the van. I cancelled the reservation today, not ONLY because they could not put the hand controls into the van, (the manufacturer of the hand controls, not sure who, did not list the Ford Econoline as one of the cars that the hand controls could go into – if anyone can, please look into this) but because the rowers decided that they did not want to go to Tennessee anymore.
This decision evolved from two weeks earlier, after some of the best racing I had ever seen. At Stotesbury regatta, the largest high school regatta in the world, the top boat was in sixth place, only two seconds behind the first boat. After the semi-final, the top five boats were all within 0.7 seconds of one another. It was amazing; the guys were racing and giving everything that they had.
The final was anyone’s race, and we had a shot to win the whole thing—something that we had not done since 1996, when two future Olympians were on the boat. The final came and it was the race that everyone came to watch; we got fifth place—eight seconds off first! What happened? The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that they underachieved. I know they tried hard; I know they gave everything they could, but there was more; they were missing a gear. It was great to finish in the top five, but they had a shot to be heroes, to do something amazing, and they did not do it. They underachieved. Does coaching have something to do with it? Was there too much pressure on them? How bad did they want it? These questions keep replaying themselves in my mind. We tried to find some speed over the next week for nationals, and we got tenth in the country. We did not even make the grand final. What happened? Underachieved.
Then, the team went to Disney World for the senior trip, and came back and let me know that they no longer wanted to go to Tennessee. They had good reasons, and I was not going to push back. They made their decision, it was not unanimous, but it was their decision. If one person does not have their total heart in it, the boat will lose seconds off their final time. We decided as a team not to go.
“Underachieved” is a word that carries a heavy meaning. It is pretty depressing to know that you could have done better, but you just didn’t. It is easier to talk about in sports, than in life, but it happens everywhere. When is the last time it happened to you? I hope you don’t let it happen again. You are strong and determined. Do your best at everything you put your mind to. You can be great. You can be a hero.