It was Saturday, 9th May 2009 – and the weatherman had predicted mostly cloudy weather with highs of around upper 40s and Sun was expected to make a guest appearance or two. About halfway through our first practice session, weather conditions made a fool of weatherman’s prediction and fairy tale like snow flakes gave our softball fields a venerable Lambeau Field in Winter look. While most others would have called it an end, our passion [or foolishness, you be the judge] kept us going and at the end of it all, I knew [seriously, I am not kidding or making this up] we would be the last team standing when season’s Sun headed towards horizon. And having nothing but softball [at least during Summer months] to claim as life, I spent part of the day after in making a sign – that we would be holding for the team picture.
Many countless hours of practice and organized team activity over next 15+ weeks or so brought us closer and made us better, a lot better – to understand and appreciate what each one brought to the table and come up with a plan to best utilize those resources to win games, one at a time. I could write about what we did right and we did wrong in each of the 13 games but it would sound more like a broken record – as such, I will just tabulate the results and talk about reasons later.
|05||2009.06.18||Physical Education 2||W||21-0|
|07||2009.07.02||Spartans (Indian Students Assn)||W||By Forfeit (team did not show up)|
|08||2009.07.09||Materials Sci & Engg||W||18-5|
|11||2009.07.30||Information Technology Services||W||25-12|
|12||2009.08.06||Student Affairs (Semi Finals)||W||20-5|
|13||2009.08.13||Electrical Engg (Finals)||W||15-9|
While not everything did was perfect, we did put up the best offense and best defense – with a league high of 278 runs scored and allowing only 73, for a league’s best run differential of +205. More importantly, most of us had fun [it might not have seemed like it but trust me, fun is a very relative/subjective entity] and even more importantly, most of the teams we played seemed to have fun too. And while there are many smaller reasons behind our success, following are probably the most notable ones [in no/some particular order]:
- A manager who knows how to run the show.
- A clean and consistent roster of players.
- A set of unselfish players who are committed to the concept of team and show up for practice.
- Teach new players the rules and regulations of the game so that they play the game the right way, don’t get hurt and importantly, don’t hurt others.
- Players who understand their role(s) and execute it – almost every time – to the best of their ability.
- At least two practice sessions a week, irrespective of weather conditions, to hone individual & team skills.
- A unified understanding that we are a work in progress and that we haven’t done anything worth talking about yet.
- A unified understanding that we shall not speak of the L word.
- A trash talker (or two).
- An awesome set of supporters and die hard fans.
- A designated driver.
- A variety of characters to keep it fun and real.
While these have been a constant fixture of our team for many years, we unanimously decided to add a thing or two to this routine:
- Team work outs three times a week [involved running and lifting a variety of weights – to help build strength/stamina and reduce fatigue during crunch game scenarios].
- Our inability to properly resolve the forces involved into appropriate components & confusion created as a result had cost us dearly in previous few championship games. As such, we abandoned the usage of Newtonian Mechanics completely and resorted to Lagrangian/Hamiltonian Mechanics – based on players’ level of comfort. It seemed to pay (very) rich dividends as we only had to worry about the initial and final potentials of the system rather than zillion force components.
Like a good [bad] old saying goes, there are many ways of doing the same thing to get the same result, and I am sure there are other ways of winning championships but trust me, I wouldn’t want to experience it any other team’s way.
The first 12 hours or so after the championship game had been pretty euphoric and celebratory [thanks in part to Mr. League Commissioner, Dave Fritz and Mr. President, Randy Harrison – for getting us the trophy the same day], the last 6 or so have been pretty disappointing and depressing – may be because the mind (and the body) knows that there are no more practices, no more games and that I wouldn’t get to see / hang out with my teammates as regularly as I had found myself doing so.