March 16, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett during the first half against the UMBC Retrievers in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at Spectrum Center. (Jeremy Brevard—USA TODAY Sports)
No excuses, no whining — Coach Tony Bennett of the University of Virginia Cavaliers calmly and respectfully gave props to the UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) team and coach for taking care of business.
“We got thoroughly out played,” Bennett said in the March 16 post-game interview about the Retrievers’ historic upset of the top-ranked Cavaliers. UMBC won 74–54 and became the first-ever No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men’s tournament.
Hats off to UMBC
Definitely the Cinderella story of this year’s March Madness, UMBC’s victory was the unlikely event that put the school on the map despite losing the next game in a nail biter to Kansas State on March 18.
Thousands of us became Retrievers’ fans, even if just for a weekend, and cheered for the obvious strength of character, pursuit of excellence and never-give-up attitude brilliantly showcased by this honors’ university team.
Our hats off to Coach Ryan Odom and the UMBC Retrievers.
(Jennifer Davis Rash screen grab of UMBC’s Twitter page on March 18, 2018)
And on the other side of the court, kudos goes to Bennett in the way he handled the historic loss in the first round of the tournament.
“[This was] a historic season in terms of most wins in the ACC. A week ago we’re cutting down the nets and the confetti is falling,” he said March 16. “And then we make history by being the first one seed to lose.
“It stings,” he said. “I told the guys, ‘This is life. It can’t define you. You enjoyed the good times and you gotta be able to take the bad times. When you step into the arena, the consequences can be historic losses, tough losses, great wins, and you have to deal with it. That’s the job.’”
Bennett not only showed good sportsmanship, but also a well-rounded perspective on life — and he modeled this for the young men on his team as well as a nation of basketball fans watching it all play out.
That one moment
“It can’t define you,” he said.
How often do we allow one moment to define us — good or bad, win or lose — rather than the sum of all the moments, and how often do we do this to others?
In the movie “Sully,” Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks, says, “I’ve delivered a million passengers over 40 years, but in the end I’m going to be judged by 208 seconds.”
He’s referring to the true story of his forced water landing on New York’s Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009, when he saved the lives of all 155 aboard U.S. Airways Flight 1549.
In the end Sully’s legacy was untarnished and he was catapulted into American hero status but for about 48 hours he wasn’t sure how it would play out.
When life-changing moments occur
Every day we all move through our routines, doing what we are called and trained to do, making decisions to the best of our abilities (at least I hope we are all giving our best). And at any moment one of those decisions, or even a routine task, could put us in a win or lose situation.
Some moments are minimal and cause few waves but others are monumental and change life for everyone involved.
How the leader leads when those times come sets the tone for all who are following, and how the team responds influences the level of dignity, perseverance and value each individual maintains on the other side of those moments.
Summing up the slices
But they are still separate slices among an entire lifetime of countless slices. If we define ourselves by that one great achievement, then that is likely all we will ever be. And if we mark ourselves as a failure because of that one historic loss or bad decision, then we certainly won’t have the strength to move past it.
We must take the good with the bad, the wins with the losses, and learn from each experience. And in all situations we can hold on to the promise from 2 Corinthians 12 that in our weakness, the power of Christ is made perfect. We merely need to trust Him to work in and through us.
—Jennifer Davis Rash