Faith, Journal, Marriage

Surviving the “What Might Have Beens” of Sports

I’m not sure there’s anyone who struggles with the “what might have been” mentality more than a coach (can I get an AMEN?!). It sometimes tortures them. Day and night. In and out of season. 

And golly does my husband have it bad. Like real bad. Sometimes before bed we still mull over the year he had that seven-footer move in on his basketball team and had to sit him because he wouldn’t come to practice. 

“You know how bad we could have beat that team? Hillary, he can dunk it with his feet flat on the court. And I can’t play him.” 

Most coaches can spend the majority of their days thinking and conversing about all things sports. At work, church, birthday parties, and even weddings. I always catch my man in a corner discussing the previous or upcoming season with someone. And I get it! It’s the same way we women are with our babies, that awesome new lipstick, and the new Walmart grocery pickup option. (Isn’t that amazing for all you busy ladies!? With lots of young’uns?!) 

So my man is something else (at least we think so). He’s a teacher, multiple sport coach, and Doctoral graduate from the UofA. He juggles a very busy schedule and somehow still is oh-so-present in our home with our three boys. 

HOWEVER. This guy can’t remember that I asked him to pick up a box of diapers or that those cookies are not for him (as he devours his fifth one). We have a wall calendar visible to all, and for some reason he still forgets the party is at 2:00 and finds himself on the lawn mower instead.

But let’s sit down and relive the State Basketball Championship of ‘97. He can vividly remember who touched the ball and at what second of the game. He can mentally account for every pass, every basket, and every game-changing foul. And if “so and so” didn’t have the flu, “we could have won that game!”

So at some point in the season, sometimes multiple times, we have these heartbreaking conversations.

“If so and so wouldn’t have moved.” 

“If ‘ol boy wouldn’t have gotten in trouble.”

And of course, “If my starting (insert very important position) wouldn’t have gotten hurt.” 

I think every team struggles with this at some time in a season, and every coach agonizes over it in their career. It’s the inevitable. Something unknown to them will inadvertently damage that hopeful chance at a ‘ship that they just knew was gonna happen. 

And it stings. The decisions that coaches have to make can be a heavy burden to carry, and sometimes the cost seems great. The “what might have been” can slowly steal their hope for the sweet victories just ahead. But I believe these situations can teach our men, and even us, to trust in our God who loves to show us how He is always working for our good!

“What ifs” can sometimes wear a deceptive disguise and tend to come in the form of many distractions. Those hardships within the journey are unavoidable, and it’s easy to fall victim to the disruption it brings to our mission.

Remembering past experiences is crucial to moving forward, and we should always consider what those encounters can offer our future. But we have to be willing to continue following our path boldly without the worry of things out of our control. 

So in our home, and in this season of life, we are striving to have a “What Will Be” frame of mind.

We want to remind ourselves where we’ve been, in hopes of finding a concentrated focus on the favorable things ahead. As I look back over the many years of our life, both personal and professional, I am in awe of how God used our sometimes-devastating situations to bring us to a place of such beauty in Him. Years of loss and heartbreak turned into four beautiful sons, three of our own flesh and one “adopted.”

Job and coaching changes that brought about such risk, resulted in some of our sweetest memories and friendships.

God has always, oh-so-faithfully, made beauty of the things we thought to be our biggest source of bitterness. 

So cheers to many seasons of taking those situations that our coaches beat themselves up over and encouraging their hearts to heed the lesson it may teach. And here’s to hoping they can embrace the circumstances of each uncertainty and roll through those gut punches. 

Pray those obstacles that sometimes crush the spirit of your coach and his players will quickly bring them to a place of deep understanding in Him and the bigger story He is creating. Because when your will is to seek HIM in ALL things, the echo of your heart has the power to alter the lives of those you encounter, both present and future. 

And believing that the “what might have been’s” that seem to linger in their minds, will be transformed into “Remember what God did in the midst of.” Your journey is unique and special. Remember that always.