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It was not quite a year ago; I stood beside a young, tall girl who was hanging onto her mother in a rambunctious crowd. The two were watching the cameras flashing as the Pagosa boys were holding up their state first place trophy. The boys passed the coveted golden object around to the other champion players.
The girls basketball team had been forgotten in the school parking lot for a moment; no mention was made of the girl’s accomplishment. The young girl was doing everything she could do holding back the tears. Her heart was breaking.
I wanted to console her. I said to her, “It’s hard, isn’t it?”
She said, “Yes, it is.”
The Pagosa boys basketball team had just returned with first place at state. Key people were called from Wolf Creek Pass to get everyone ready to give the boys an entrance of their lifetime. “They’re coming. They have just gone over the pass.”
Facebook, texting, phone calls and e-mail spread throughout the town. On Sunday afternoon, the good fans of Pagosa were there to welcome the boys home from state. Bright yellow signs, decorated cars and trucks with balloons and flags were waiting for the big yellow bus. The press was there with a notebook and camera. Even Ron was there in his clown suit. It was the greatest moment for the Pagosa boys basketball players since 1960.
The school bus windows went down, the boys leaned out the windows, and they knew they were heroes. It was like a scene from an old movie. After the bus passed, the cars followed the players to the Pagosa Springs High School parking lot. They were just boys, but they came home as men.
At the parking lot, I asked, “Where’s the girls?”
“Oh they planned it for them to come in early so they wouldn’t feel badly.”
“They shouldn’t feel badly at all, they lost only one game at state. They went all the way, too. They ran up and down the courts as many times as the boys. They just didn’t get the trophy.”
As I reflect back to last year, I can only imagine the tears and the joy that went on in the Lucero family. Their son won first place, their daughter didn’t. They both practiced and played their hearts out. That was the boys’ year, most of them were seniors, and they only had that year to prove they could do it and get a scholarship for college. A lot was riding on it for the boys.
The girls had another year to be more seasoned. They are on a roll, rolling down the highway in that big yellow school bus, going from here to there. To date, they have won all their games.
I believe today, if I had a chance to talk to the same young girl standing in the crowd with her mother, I would probably say to her, “Last year made you hungry, didn’t it? Your whole team became one from that experience, no one knows how it felt but the team.”
Final brushstroke: I always love watching “Hoosier.” I remember the coach saying, “We have to break them down, in order to build them into a team to play as one.” I believe last year was the girl’s breaking-down season. They will never forget how it felt to come in second. It was harsh, but look at the girls this year. I’m putting my money on them.
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Artist’s Quote: “… your comfort zone is your failure zone — to get anywhere worth going in life, you’ve got to learn to reach beyond it to what I call your achievement zone. Confusion and fear keep us trapped in our comfort zone indefinitely while incredible opportunities pass us by.” -— Napoleon Hill.