In my last blog, I talked about the concept of change and its importance in the spectrum of overcoming underachievement and failure and reaching meaningful success. I said that our team was at a turning point in our season and I truly felt that the way we handled ourselves in the midst of a bad final out-of-conference loss and a mediocre start to the season, would come to define our team and dictate how the rest of the season would unfold for us. Well, I am happy to be sitting here writing to you with news that we bounced back this past weekend and opened up conference play with two wins (against Rider and Loyola, respectively). Rider was 5-1-2 heading into our game with them; We hadn’t beaten Loyola in the regular season for more than a decade. So how did the momentum shift? How did we manage to grow and change and learn and win after being beaten and exposed? We worked.
To steal a line from one of my all-time favorite movies, Remember the Titans, “Attitude reflects leadership.” In the hierarchy of influence within the framework of a collegiate soccer team, the coaching staff assumes the primary leadership role and they are supported and supplemented by their selected captains. When a team is at a turning point in their season, leadership becomes paramount. It’s easy to handle a team and motivate players when things are going well. It’s much more difficult to stay upbeat and help inspire positive change when things are not working out as planned and when efforts to improve go unrequited. When we arrived back at Fairfield after our last out of conference game before MAAC play (a 4-1 loss to Fordham), the coaching staff met with me and my fellow senior captains and demanded change, improvement, effort, and accountability. They let us know that things needed to be better or this season and our senior year was going to be lost.
Coach O’Brien said before our game that the “theme” of the weekend had to be mental toughness. We had to be tenacious in our pursuit of success and stay determined but composed in high-pressure situations. The results of the games that followed this pregame talk were a direct indication that we understood the meaning of mental toughness and we were ready to use it to change the course of our season.
Sometimes you have to take a few steps back to get that running start toward the success that you want. We certainly have had our setbacks this year but the important thing is how we have responded to them. We are 2-0 in conference, working hard, and staying focused. We have all the momentum we could want heading into 2 huge conference games at home and with determined effort and mental toughness, I’m expecting great things.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to updating you after our important weekend of games against Niagara University and Canisius College.
Breathe. Battle. Believe.