Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers once said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Lombardi couldn’t have been more wrong. The Arizona Wildcat women’s basketball team hasn’t won very many games this season but they have shown, beyond a shadow of the doubt, that there is more to life than notching another “W.”
The Cats have recently endured a streak where they dropped nine of 10 games and most teams would have completely unraveled. Since September, the players, coaches and staff have faced the death of superstar Shawntinice Polk, a continuing grieving process that has seen the need for in-depth counseling, as well as injuries to key players. Yet they are still playing hard, staying together and pulled an upset over Oregon on Saturday.
After their exciting overtime win, it was a wonderful joy to watch Arizona players smiling, laughing and dancing off of the court. Yes, it was just one win, but it meant more than any one of us could ever understand. This win signaled that character can triumph over adversity and that human beings can bond in amazing ways. This team may not win the Pac-10 title or even finish in the top half of the conference standings, but they have become sisters. Which of these two options do you think is more important?
Throughout this losing streak, there has been no finger-pointing, fighting or whining. This team has displayed amazing character and in large part it has gone unnoticed within the Tucson community. After the initial shock of Polkey’s passing, interest has waned as the losses have piled up. That’s too bad, because a tremendous amount of good things can be learned from this team.
We can learn from Coach Joan Bonvicini, who has been willing to change many of her successful ways to deal with a special situation. We can learn from the compassion and tenaciousness of the coaches who have never given up on any of the student athletes that have been placed under their stewardship. Finally, we can learn from the players. These young ladies have grieved, struggled, looked for a new identity and have stayed together. Their example could be applied in a positive way to our families, businesses, churches and communities.
Vince Lombardi may have missed the boat when he exclaimed the benefits that come with more wins than losses. But Saturday, when the Arizona women’s basketball team skipped off of the court with a precious win, we saw what is really important. Let’s not miss the point. There is more to life than notching another “W.”
See you on the radio!
*Each game is broadcast live on KJLL AM 1330.
*Join us for the Joan Bonvicini Coaches Show, heard live on KJLL each Monday from 6-7 p.m.