It is not a coach’s job to produce wins, champions or athletes who are scholarship worthy. It is our goal but not our job. It is our job to use athletics as a tool to help in the personal development of the student-athlete. There is more to life than winning and losing. There is certainly more to life than any particular sport.
“Did you give it your best?”
We want our young men and women to project an image of mature, disciplined, never-say-die competitors. We hope to accomplish this regardless of wins or losses or the number of kids or athletes we send on to compete in local, national college, world cups or any event. We do this through what is called “The Three Cs” – Class, Character and Courage and what we call “PDX Pride.”
Some athletes will find that these are more than words with our program. The expectation is high and it is constant, not in their performance as much as their demeanor – both on and off the strip. There are many kids and parents who feel that athletics is a right and owed to them. There are those who are not used to having rules or expectations to live by. There are those who feel that they are such fine athletes that the program cannot do without them and, therefore, they are above the rules or that exceptions will be made for them. We let them know that these are unacceptable ideas and concepts. For some the burden of living up to what is expected is too much and they quit. Those four areas of emphasis – Class, Character, Courage, PDX Pride – are the foundation on which our program has been built. If our athletes can live up to these four things, winning on the strip, and in life, will take care of itself.
There is an old saying “Class Tells.” What it tells is what type of person you are and, as extension, what type of program you a part of. It tells
what type of winner or loser you are. It tells whether or not an opponent can expect a full effort from you every time, no matter what the circumstances.
Class means no trash-talking. It means shaking the hand of your opponent – win or lose. Class is being genuinely happy for a teammate’s success, especially when things did not go your way. Class is all of us wearing the same team uniform. Class is accepting and cheering even the least talented of our teammates, no matter the outcome. Class is humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
Character tells who you are. Are you a whiner or a complainer? Is the coach or your teammates out to get you? Is it always the other guys fault? Do you blame everyone but yourself for the situation you find yourself in? Are you a showboat? Do you talk down to others to make yourself look good? These practices cannot be accepted. We expect humility. We expect our kids and athletes to act like “they’ve been there before.”
Working hard every day is a demonstration of character. If we win we did our jobs and we will work to get better. If we lose, we will analyze our failings within the privacy of the team and work to get better. These things are not for public display. We will never quit or back away. We will give credit where credit is due to friend and foe alike. If you lost by a point, than you lost by a point – no excuses. Can you answer the call to compete when you think you are least able to answer?
Courage is not a lack of fear; it is the willingness to confront fear. Courage is the willingness to work hard every day knowing that the possibility of failure is always there. It is the willingness to battle the favorite with everything you have. Courage is looking in the mirror every day and being able to say, “I did my very best today.” Courage is looking at what you failed to do in order to be at your best when the next challenge comes along. It is not easy to be self critical. It takes courage. Doing what you know you should do, even if it’s scary, is courage. Do you have the courage to fail? Without it you can never be a success
It’s an attitude of “we’re in this together” Together we can achieve great things. No matter your rating, your talent level or your social status, we are
a team. Effort – individual and team – is how we measure our success. When it gets down to the end of the tournament, we will all be out there cheering on our teammates. We care about how each of us does because it leads to our collective success.
Our athletes know that to live up to this mantra is far more important than winning or losing. Even our least talented athlete knows that he/she has value. We view success as a shared effort, even though fencing is not a team sport.
Compete to excel as opposed to the win. Competing to excel – to surpass personal goals or develop skills – is associated with higher self esteem, more feelings of achievement.