Strive for True Victory (CIF-SS Championship Video)

Recap video of Maranatha’s CIF-SS D-5 Girls Tennis Championship

Hey TD!

Last week, we had a post entitled, We Must Play. It’s a must read.  Well, along those lines, a few weeks ago, Sandra and I had the privilege of coaching the Maranatha High School Varsity Girls Tennis Team to a CIF-SS D-5 Championship.  It was a stressful but thrilling two weeks of intense playing, soul-searching, and figuring out how to be able to produce our best when our best is needed.  The playoffs are not for the faint of heart. Sports is a great revealer of things.  It has been said that when you play competitive sports, the real you comes out.

It is incredibly difficult to win a championship at any level; there is an incredible amount of focus, discipline, character, desire, perspective, and providence that must all come together for the desired result to occur; and even then, there are no guarantees it will.  So many others want the same thing, yet only one will be left standing.

I want to remind you that while only one team or one person can win the championship, it is absolutely possible for more than one to come out a champion.  Your “thing” may or may not be sports; but whatever it is, you can come out a true winner – if you figure out how to do it to His honor, to represent Him well, with your very best effort with integrity, with grace and fairness towards your competitors – regardless of the outcome.  Col. 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men.” If you do that, you are a winner in the eyes of the only One that matters.

We are grateful for God’s generosity and kindness to us in granting us the championship; but as I told our team, it comes with great responsibility of stewardship and giving credit to Whom credit is due.  Our theme verse was 1 Cor. 10:31, “Whether then you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  While our team really wanted to earn championship rings, we agreed that, more than for the ring alone, we are playing for the “King of the ring.”

Your “thing” may or may not be sports; but whatever it is, you can come out a true winner – if you figure out how to do it to His honor, to represent Him well, with your very best effort with integrity, with grace and fairness towards your competitors – regardless of the outcome.  Col. 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men.” If you do that, you are a winner in the eyes of the only One that matters. 

This was the first time in my years of coaching boys and girls tennis that both finalists were Christian schools, both bearing witness.  After the ceremony was over, a long-time CIF official made a point to come to me and let me know that it was the finest display of sportsmanship at the ceremony that he’s seen, and that that’s how high school sports should be.

Indeed, it has been an opportunity to give thanks to God and attempt to represent Him well.  If you’re interested, here are a couple of newspaper articles.  They don’t always include the faith aspects into their stories, even when you share it with them, but you can still catch the drift:

Pasadena Sports Now

Pasadena Outlook

TD’ers, none of us is going to go through the game of life smoothly.  We’re going to have bumps and bruises, successes and failures along the way.  My dad used to remind me that failure is the foundation of success.  He’s right.  Failure can be such a powerful teacher.  I’ve always told people that the mark of a Christian is not whether you fall (you will), but the manner in which you get up when you fall.

I encourage you all during this finals season to prepare well, think well, treat others well, put God first, love your family, live honorably and consistently inside and out, and trust Him. If you do, whatever the results, you will have earned true victory.  Amen.

Go get’ em! – Coach Arthur 🙂

 

 

The Eulogy Heard ‘Round the World/You Can’t Choose Family

Hey TD,

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard of what I’m calling the “Eulogy Heard ‘Round the World.”  Of course, I’m speaking of the powerful eulogy that NBA coach, Monty Williams, gave last week at the memorial service of his wife, Ingrid (age 44), whose car was struck head on by an oncoming car that swerved over the center divider at a speed of 92 mph (in a 40 mph zone).  She left behind her husband and 5 children, ages 5 – 17.

If you haven’t seen the eulogy, you NEED to do so here.  It is an amazing testimony of God’s power and sustenance in the midst of tragedy and loss:

I cannot even fathom being in his position; and I would need all the grace God has to keep me standing.  Williams’ focus, perspective, and purpose move and motivate me to be a better Christian man.

NBA superstar, Anthony Davis, who was a former player of Williams’, had been largely silent … until today, when he posted a short first-person essay about Coach Williams, You Can’t Choose Family.  It motivates me to be a better Christian coach:

You Can’t Choose Family by Anthony Davis

You can’t choose family. Those are the people that God puts around you, to help you and to guide you. That’s why family means everything to me; family can’t be replaced. And so I’m heartbroken right now because Monty and Ingrid Williams are like a second family to me.

New Orleans is a long way from Chicago. As a 19 year old just coming into the league — living away from home in a new city, taking on the challenge of being a pro — being that far away from my support system was hard. My parents, my sisters, they would come to visit me as much as they could, of course. But even then, the team was on the road so much, different cities all the time, different people all the time, everybody wanting a little piece of you, trying to tell you about some deal they had for you. It could be really difficult.

That’s why I was blessed, really blessed, to have Monty Williams as my coach. The type of person he is, he cared about me and every member of our team more as human beings than as basketball players. And Ingrid was the same way. They opened their hearts to me. They really became like another set of parents. Anything I needed, if I needed to talk, whatever, they were there. I can’t tell you what that meant to me.

I keep thinking about how, before every home game, as soon as Monty came out on the floor, he would look up in the stands to where Ingrid and the kids were sitting and finding them there, he’d smile and wave to them. Before every single game. My prayers and my heart are with the Williams family. Because they are like my second family.

– Arthur