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Monday, November 17, 2014

Rhinebeck Boys Soccer ~ Team of Champions

Rhinebeck Photographer Kathy Cassens captures the thrill!
 

     The Rhinebeck Boys Soccer Team has just won the Class C New York State Championship, and if ever there was a championship team, this one is it. I was unable to go to the games this year, but my son's retelling certainly kept me in the loop. I knew every amazing kick, every heartstopping save. In the post season, I heard about the games and about life on the bench. I watched my son learn the meaning of teamwork ~ teamcare
     Whether he played ten minutes or not at all, we won, was my son's grinning refrain. While I worried about the pressures of success piled on success, he shrugged it off - we play hard. We're good. We're going to states. We play hard. We're good. We're going to win.
  Soccer is a team sport, and the Rhinebeck Boys Soccer Team played as a team. Coach Wiesenthal is to be commended not only because of his championship win, but because of the value he instilled in each player, whatever their position. 
  I've also learned something from Coach Wiesenthal and his Championship Team. 
  On Saturday, the last game before the final, Rhinebeck was down with a little over a minute left to play. I could feel the collective heart of Rhinebeck breaking. But the boys kept playing. Playing hard. Playing their best.  80 seconds. 60 seconds. 50. 40...  Somewhere, time stopped ~ the tying goal was made, and Rhinebeck won in overtime. 
  Sunday, Rhinebeck won the championship. But Saturday showed why the Rhinebeck 2014 Boys Soccer Team is a Championship Team. 
     We tell our kids to try their best, to never give up, to believe in themselves. But do we believe it?  Or do we temper our enthusiasm to allay our disappointment? Do we let our worries diminish our hopes?
  Losses come. Invariably losses come and when they do, we need to deal with them. But while the game's still on, while the clock's still running, we've got to keep moving, keep trying, keep believing. That's what makes a championship team. That's what makes a champion. 
     Truly, the boys on the Rhinebeck Soccer Team are champions! 




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Prayer for Caroline

It's November. Browning leaves cling to barren branches. The skies have turned a resolute steel-blue.  Darkness comes too soon and a cold shiver spreads across our land.  Winter is on her way. 

Once upon a November, decades ago, there was a little girl with short blond hair wearing a blue wool coat, standing beside a woman draped in black.

Once upon another November, my own father died.  It was November 22, the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. 

Unlike the girl in the blue wool coat,  I was an adult when my father died. Because of the date, the newspapers were filled with retrospectives of that dreadful day in Dallas. Having just lost my own father, I wondered how Caroline felt remembering the loss of hers. Despite the unbridgeable chasm in our social standing and sphere of influence, I felt a connection to the bereft little girl with the blond hair barretted on one side, the little girl who once basked in the love of a doting father. 

My father never sailed New England Waters. In all my childhood, we never afforded even one family vacation. Nor did we mingle with kings and princes. 

And yet, my father treated everyone he met as royalty, and he taught me to do the same. Everyone has their story, my father said. With an empathetic heart, he told me about the immigrant who cleaned his office at night and the taxi driver  haunted by his memories of the Holocaust. My father listened to everyone's story, and with a rosary in his pocket, he tried to make his world a better place. 


I think of my father ever day and miss him tremenously. I miss his honey voice, his kindness, his stories. I'm sure Caroline thinks of her father every day as well. When the skies turn steely blue and a cold shiver spreads across our land, I’m quite certain that the man Caroline misses isn’t a President, but a Father ~ a man who in everything important, was not much different than my father, a good man who modeled a life dedicated to the understanding and service of others. 

It's November. Soon the newspapers and blog posts will recall John F. Kennedy's assassination. On that day,  I'll be thinking of my own father. But I won't forget to say a prayer for Caroline.  May the tender ache that accompanies browning leaves and barren branches be assuaged by a joyful appreciation of our wonderful fathers ~ a gift more precious than any financial holding or social standing.