Courage is a mental quality recognizing the fear of physical injury and danger or the emotional fear of criticism and humiliation, yet courage enables one to proceed in the face of danger or concern with calmness and resolve.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the recognition of its existence, and the willingness to take decisive action in spite of it. Note: The Hero and the Coward feel the same feelings, the distinction between the two is the decisions and actions one takes despite the fear.
This past weekend our entire team faced the fear of criticism and perhaps humiliation as we played one of America’s oldest high school football rivalries. The 116th playing of “The Game” between St Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon Institute; a rivalry reaching back to 1894. In the past 6 seasons, the Academy has accumulated a comfortable 388 to 48 scoring margin winning those six games by an average of 55-7. No Academy team wants to be the one to end the winning streak. This year the Vikings brought in a talented team, bigger and stronger than ours, but we were able to come out on top 31-14 in a game actually far closer than the score reflects.
During the game, we had several players returning from injuries having missed the previous game and multiple practices. While they were all medically cleared to play, each faced understandable concerns of being reinjured or whether their performance would be worthy of the trust of their teammates. Despite their fears, they played well and contributed to our victory.
We also had several physical mismatches on the line of scrimmage. Our 176 lbs Sophomore Left Guard, who lives in Lyndon but chose to attend the Academy, faced a 300 lbs Senior Defensive Tackle all game. Knowing the opponent was bigger, stronger, more experienced, and understanding the threat of harm, our Sophomore Guard showed great resolve to do his personal best, utilize the techniques he has been taught, and relied on communication with his fellow offensive linemen to get help when needed.
Undoubtedly we will all face situations in life calling for courage. Sometimes physical, sometimes moral… The physical actions of first responders and our military are often top of mind, but many also show the courage of compassion while helping a friend or colleague in need, or the courage of conviction while taking a stand on moral issues where opinions significantly differ. Athletics offer student-athletes opportunities for small inoculations against fear (physical or moral) and helps prove their resilience, increasing self-confidence, reinforcing the importance of discipline and sacrifice, and ultimately readying them for much of what may lie ahead.
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!