“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

-African Proverb

The single, greatest joy in a team sport is losing yourself in the team. The late Jim Valvano, former North Carolina State coach said, “A person really doesn’t become whole until he becomes a part of something that’s bigger than himself.”

 

One of my favorite must-read books, “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown, tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold in Berlin. The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a boy of incredible courage. Joe had a hard childhood, and he often had to fight his battles alone. It wasn’t until he ‘lost himself in his team’ did he and his teammates experience just how far they could go together:

 

In the last desperate few hundred meters of the race, in the searing pain and bewildering noise of that final furious sprint, there had come a singular moment when Joe realized with startling clarity that there was nothing more he could do to win the race, beyond what he was already doing. Except for one thing. He could finally abandon all doubt, trust absolutely without reservation that he and the boy in front of him and the boys behind him would all do precisely what they needed to do at precisely the instant they needed to do it. He had known in that instant that there could be no hesitation, no shred of indecision. He had had no choice but to throw himself into each stroke as if he were throwing himself off of a cliff into a void, with unquestioned faith that the others would be there to save him.

 

That is a very powerful passage! We can only achieve true greatness in “concert” with each other, and that’s easier said than done. Don Mattingly said, “When I gave up me, I became more.” Ponder that one!

Questions:

  • Can you think of a situation where you accomplished more because you were working together with a friend or group?

  • What did Joe Rantz finally learn to do?

  • How does Mattingly’s quote make any sense?

 

Rewrite/Memorize Pillar Quote>>>

Overtime: Read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown or watch “American Experience: The Boys of '36” on Netflix

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