Daily Short-hOPT: For The Backups

“You can learn a line from a win and a book from a defeat.” – Paul Brown

I recently read a couple articles about a Michigan State University quarterback that lost his starting job. This young man, Andrew Maxwell, was the team’s #1 QB a year ago, but didn’t do quite enough to keep his spot. This season, as a fifth year senior, he had to turn the reins over to another player. What’s amazing about this is that both articles contained multiple quotes from Maxwell’s teammates and coaches discussing what an incredible team player Maxwell is. Instead of throwing in the towel and going about his business dejectedly, Andrew Maxwell has continued to practice at the same level and has made a point to help his teammates perform to the best of their abilities in any way possible. 

Could you do this? Could you keep your composure and be productive? Could you be a great teammate? 

Could I? I’d like to say yes, and being an author of a daily blog that centers around positivity, you’d think I would, right? Given the same set of circumstances, I’d like to think I would eventually make peace with it and put my best foot forward. I’d like to think that anyway. I’m sure in private moments, Andrew Maxwell has had some negativity seep in. It’s human. I think we all would. 

I’ve actually seen this play out in person, and it’s both fantastic and heartbreaking to be a part of. As a head coach, the hardest thing I have to do is make out a lineup. I’m not sure if this is something other coaches deal with, or if I’m just a softy. When I post the day’s lineup, I watch the players check it, and I see the disappointment from those listed in the ‘Bench’ column. That’s one of the toughest things for me to watch. I wish I could play more than 9 or 10 guys at a time, but that’s obviously not possible. I watched one young man go through this a lot last season, and the end result was a level of admiration for this ball player that I will carry for a long time. This young man always took it in stride (at least outwardly), and at no point did I see a mopey or pouty athlete. I knew he wanted more playing time, but he just happened to be blocked by other players. He stuck it out, made it through, and has earned a spot in my heart as one of the toughest and most valiant young men I have coached. He’ll get a shot this coming season, and I can’t wait to see what he does with it. 

The lesson here is that we can go one of two ways when we have something taken from us or don’t have things go as planned. We can shut down, point fingers and hinder those around us out of spite. Or, we can choose to learn from the experience, continue to bust our tails and do whatever possible to advance the success of our peers. Option one is easier and ultimately selfish. Option two shows true character and compassion.

It’s okay to be a backup. Every job has purpose. Embrace whatever role you have and push yourself to be the best in it. And, when and if your time comes, you will be fully prepared to make the most of the opportunity. 

Have an awesome Friday,
-A. 

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