I am sure several of you remember weekly TV editions of, “The Wide World of Sports.” Plus, if you are one of the many who played sports themselves, I am also sure you shared experiences on both ends of the “Thrill and Agony” spectrum. Both aspects of those up and down times teach important lessons, which hopefully help us all live through similar circumstances throughout our lifetime.
In this case, Pam and I started out last week, on a road trip to Laughlin. It was again time to watch my granddaughter’s fast-pitch softball team play in a tournament, which this time was held across the river in Arizona. The drive was uneventful and, as we entered our destination, we observed the same limited “hustle and bustle” as other areas suffering the effects of the 2020 Pandemic. As we passed the Colorado Belle, we did not see any activity at all, and when we asked about it later, we were told, the Belle and the Edgewater had new owners. The two hotels were sold as a package and the Belle was not in good shape. At least for now, the new proprietors had decided for it to sit vacant.
For us, it was not pleasant news. In years past, we had ridden the Laughlin River motorcycle run and stayed in the Belle when it was bright, and shiny. Our first experiences were with a new hotel, which included roaming jazz bands throwing beads and a second floor filled with shops and restaurants. As we continued to stay in the Belle for those yearly trips, the jazz bands vanished, the bow of the boat was decimated to make room for another tower, and we watched as the second floor was depopulated, until it closed all together. While it is said all things change over time, it does not mean we have to like it.
But we were in town for a softball tournament, so on the first day we were off to watch my granddaughter’s team’s pool play. No, nothing to do with swimming. For this part of the weekend’s competition, the teams attending were randomly placed in classification pools, and depending on how well they did, each team would be seeded in one of three single-elimination tournaments, scheduled for Sunday. At the end of Saturday’s play, our team was undefeated, and would therefore be placed in the “Gold,” or “A” league tournament.
Sunday finally arrived. The level of competition would most likely be higher, and our team came through, winning the first two games. Now came the final championship game, when the weekend’s undefeated teams would decide who has bragging rights for their tournament effort. It was an exciting game and for the first six innings a “nail biter.” Giving our opponents the credit they deserve, their pitcher had a “no-hitter” going for six innings and their offense has scored two runs. At that point, the only thing keeping us in the game was a well-coached defense.
As my granddaughter’s team came up to bat in the seventh and last inning, they were close to packing it in. But, after the first batter was out, the team seemed to finally come to grips with the pitcher’s technique and scored two runs to tie up the score. Once again in the bottom of the 7th, our team took their opposition down with no runs scored, and it was on to extra innings.
Top of the 8th inning and our team continued where they left off and scored four additional runs. As a beaming grandfather, I silently cheered as my granddaughter Briona contributed to the offense with a base hit. Bottom of the 8th and the other side went down in order with Briona catching the third out deep in center field.
I was proud of their team effort as they did not let down the entire game. They were happy about their win, yet I was every bit as proud with the way they celebrated, without gloating. That is a part of the lesson they learned when experiencing the “Thrill of Victory.” In fact, they were following the example of their head coach, who did not get excited during or after the game, and after passing out team awards, he had the players thank their parents for the opportunity to play.
For their opponents, it was the realization, as Yogi would say, “it ain’t over, ’til it’s over,” and even though it resulted in a game that keeps players up the following night, rising up, working hard, and coming back from the “Agony of Defeat” builds character as well.
I also have another granddaughter, Madison. She may not play softball, yet she is a winner also. Madison is a senior in high school and doing exceptionally well. As an aspiring artist, she entered a competition for the design of her senior class logo against 21 other entries, and she won the day. Her “Senior Serpents” logo is fantastic.
Which all goes to prove, there are many ways to celebrate the “Thrill of Victory.” We should all remember, victory can arrive by just being who you are, and doing what you do best.
Alan Ferdman is a Santa Clarita resident and a member of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee board.