Friday, January 21, 2011

Chapter One: Sweat and Hope

UPDATE: I will now be finishing the Season Narrative that I tried to write back in November. I think it's time. Chapter 2 will be out on Monday morning! Here's Chapter 1 again as a reminder.

“Really, really good.”
“Really?” she said with a surprised look on her face.
“Like, we-might-not-lose-a-regular-season-match good.”

Pouring a cup of coffee, I was asked last spring how the team would be in the fall. The answer sprung from my mouth before I could even think about it. I scrambled back to my computer to think about what I had said, pulling the 2010 schedule up before me.

The bold prediction hadn’t come out of nowhere, I mean, I had been tirelessly working on “Wednesday Opponent Overviews” for much of the winter and spring. So I knew that we would have a good shot at traditional nemeses such as Concord and Northridge. I also was aware that our top 4 players would be back for their senior seasons, and that we had varsity experience to help them in Blake Shetler.

It was more than that though. Hope was jumping out of me because of P90X. Well, at least, the fact that every night after school I had 3-4 guys staying with me to strengthen themselves for the rigors of the season. Himal, Ryan and Ike - we would crank open the creaky old windows in my classroom in the dead of February and push ourselves through Yoga X. Muscles strained, sweat dripped all over the carpet, and it stank. I could only hope the frigid wind would carry the stink away before my classes the next morning. I could only hope that the work was making us better.

It was developing our strength, that much was certain. Once, Marcelo decided that he needed to come work out with us. It was during a day of Plyometrics, jumping, squatting, turning. Sweating. Marcelo made it through half the workout before he was done, while we happily completed the rest. It felt good to know that we were working.

Hope bounds forth from hard work. Ben Mast was committing himself to lessons at the racket club, Seth Krabill had enrolled in the Elite lesson program, and even Evan Grimes taking lessons. This work, these improvements, the sweat allowed us to dream all the higher. Without the work, we could expect another good but not great 12-8 season, just like the 2009 season. With the sweat, with the conditioning, with the lessons, who was to say what the ceiling would be? 5 losses? 3 losses? 0 losses? Why not?

Dr. O. Carl Simonton once said, “In the face of uncertainty, there is nothing wrong with hope.” Every season is an uncertainty, but looking at the 2010 season, there was every reason to hope. There was the work we were putting in, and then there was the results. Ben and Seth went down to the college one night after school to hit around and happened across Jordan Kauffman and Matthew Amstutz, two recent varsity players for Bethany who played for Goshen College. In a pick-up game, Seth and Ben destroyed the two college players, 6-1. These trends of results continued, as Ben took down the all-time wins leader of Bethany, Luke Hostetter, in a summer match.

Even the new freshman were getting into the act. Joel Gerig, Parth Patel, Abe Thorne, and Justin Zehr, every night they would pile into a car and drive down to the college to find court space to play. It didn’t matter if there really wasn’t space for them all, they just wanted to play. So that sat on each other’s lap if necessary to make it happen.

With all this going on, I looked at our schedule. My thoughts were simple. We can beat Northridge, they lose five varsity players. We can beat Concord, they lose six varsity players. We can beat Goshen, Westview, and the toughest match will be Fairfield, but they will have lost four players, we can beat them too!

An undefeated team? Unlikely. But in the offseason, it is the sweat that drives the dreams. The more sweat, the more hope. And this 2010 team was letting both flow.

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