The looks of utter disappointment and the tears in the eyes of a team that knows it should have won are the worst side of team sports. Twice this past football season, the varsity football team that I was a part of did not play its best against Landon and Georgetown Prep, yet we knew that we were the better team. In both games, we held leads, but we were unable to pull out the win.
Before head coach Pat Cilento accepted his job at Bullis, we would have been lucky to win even a couple of games, let alone an IAC championship. He completely changed the program as soon as he arrived in 2010. A 6-4 record in his inaugural season marked the first time in years that we had earned a winning record, and a brighter future was on the horizon. I first came to Bullis as a tenth grader, one year after Cilento’s arrival.
After winning the IAC championship, every player on the team was jubilant. We were awestruck and could not believe that we had actually risen to the top of the conference. However, despite our great season, we were still hungry and motivated by the blemish on our record. Earning a record of 9-1 was not good enough; our goal was to go undefeated.
In the offseason, we lifted, ran, and did everything we could to improve. We were not going to take no for an answer. The 2012 season started with a bang; everything was clicking. It seemed as though we were doing everything right.
Nevertheless, when we faced Landon, our winning streak sadly ended. Honestly, we took them lightly; we underestimated them and had a lackluster week of practice leading up to the game. It was a hard fought game, but we lost 12-7. We were better them, but on that day, we just did not show it. The same thing happened against Georgetown Prep, when we lost 10-7. After the game, I remember coach Cilento saying, “It goes back to the way we practice.”
He had been stressing the importance of practice all year long and we finally realized that he was right. We learned our lesson the hard way, and in the locker room, I saw faces of pure disappointment and dejection. I saw the faces of a team that never wanted to experience such a letdown again. Worst of all, I saw shame.
We finished the season with eight wins and two losses; Landon ended up winning the IAC championship. At first, we were devastated. It was hard to overcome. However, these losses happened for a reason; now we use our losses as motivation for next season.
Losing this past season will make us play even better, work harder, take practice more seriously, and never take a day off. We will definitely listen to coach Cilento and practice a lot harder to ensure that we triumph in the future.
None of us want to lose again, and everybody is going to come together to prevent this from happening. To some, football is nothing more than a game. It may seem like just another sport.
To us, though, it is much more than that. Our team is a brotherhood; it is what brings us together; it is where best friends are made. Football is loud applause, the smacking of pads, and the click clack of cleats. It is the taste of your chewed mouth guard.
There is nothing like it and it gives you a rush like no other sport. It is the heartache after losing and the happiness after winning a big game. Above all else, it is where champions are made. We will make sure we bring the championship back next year and for many years to come!
Images courtesy of Kia Saint-Louis