Those are the words from Washington Nationals baseball coach, Dave Martinez, who has had his share of challenges in his second year of coaching DC’s relatively new baseball team as DC’s hometown team worked their way into the playoffs and then into the World Series and then returning home tonight as World Series Champions! I had so much fun watching the Nats finally live up to their expectations and found a number of life lessons in their journey. While everyone else in my family is more of a radical baseball fan than I am – I am still good for a game or two a season in person (not a huge fan of crowds and the logistical challenges they bring!) but have followed the team closely and watch the games on TV and thoroughly enjoyed the genuine camaraderie of this team as they supported each other over the finish line. This is a team that helped to bridge the political divide in a town where politics drive nearly everything. No small feat.
As a town more known for policy nerds than athletic prowess, it’s been kind of a wild run on the heels of the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup in 2018 as the two teams have shared notes on all of the best fountains in Washington DC to jump into with a champagne filled trophy and how to host a celebration parade where the national capital dome is in the background.
As a former athlete and mother of two daughters very engaged in athletic competition, there were a number of lessons that I think came from the Nationals and their season and victory.
- It’s never over until it’s over. The Nats had more than their share of games where they came back from behind to win…although none more stark than winning the World Series where they had to win the last two games in a clutch process to win. Never giving up even when you are behind? Huge.
- They are the oldest baseball team to ever win. Some joked that they were more likely to be drinking Geritol than Gatorade. I like to think that experience and lessons learned actually matter.
- They are the first World Series team to win without winning A SINGLE HOME game for the series. Wow…what happened to the hometown advantage? Being able to achieve without the support that we desire? That’s overcoming quite a hurdle.
- They liked each other and had fun. The Nats became somewhat renown for their dancing in the dugout and leading stadiums in renditions of Baby Shark….it’s too easy to take ourselves too seriously so I love the spirit and joy these players showed in playing the game. Remember, it is a game!
So I enjoyed thoroughly watching our team disembarking off their plane this evening at Dulles Airport – many with their children in tow wearing Halloween costumes – to the cheers of the airport ground crew, reporters and lucky fellow passengers. The team came off the plane and every one hugged their manager, Martinez as they headed down the stairs and all I could think of was that sometimes persistence, teamwork, great attitude, willingness to run through first base and finding joy might indeed be the keys to success.