Tag Archives: Underdog stories

Inspired and Ready For a Comeback Win

24 Feb

It was an inspirational story that unfolded in three periods, the kind of story that pulls at the heart because you’re not really hoping for yourself to succeed, you’re hoping for someone else.

It’s the kind that every parent has when they’re cheering for their kids. I don’t think I ever had that shoot-for-the-win-as-the-clock-winds-down fantasy when I was playing sports. I wanted to win, of course, but I was never the buzzer-beater dreamer. I was more of the playmaker and defensive beast. And I had hope back then, just as I do now. But now with kids it’s different.

My hope sits with them. I hope for them, I want them to experience the win, feel what it’s like to get a victory hug from your teammates, feel what it’s like to have a redemption win, feel what that’s like.

So when my son’s team lost their hockey tournament in a shoot-out, after the score remained the same in sudden death overtime, my heart broke a little because I wanted that so much for him. But I was still proud of his effort, of his heart, and defenseman skills. I wanted to show him that regardless of the score he should be proud of himself too. And the thing is … he was.

He smiled as he got his second place medal for his weekend tournament and I was too … but I still wanted that for him. Just like parents everywhere, you want them to feel that sunshine glow. Just like fans everywhere, you place your hopes on your team and wish them to victory, not because you want something for yourself, but more so because you want that feel-good-feeling for them, the kind of feeling I got from watching the US Women’s Hockey team win the gold.

us-womens-hockey-04-gty-jrl-180222_3x2_992

It was an intensely stressful and dramatic moment of exuberance. I jumped off the couch, pumped my fist in the air, and said what every hockey fan that had seen Miracle had said … YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Late Wednesday night, I witnessed the come-from-behind redemption win that had been in the sights of the women’s hockey team since the Sochi Olympics.

It was the kind of game that had this House of Sports residents fully engaged and putting all her hope on a young goalie, the kind of hope that makes players faster, stronger, and more skilled. You hope that the best version of your player is out there and that you did what you could to support them. And it is this kind of inspirational play that you hope catches the spirit of your kids.

And I’m happy to report that watching the women’s hockey team play Canada for the gold was an inspirational testament that resonated with thousands of people and found a spot in the heart of my kids.

Congrats to the women’s hockey team on a job well done. Earning some medals and inspiring future generations of athletes to give it everything they got. My son is ready for this weekend’s game and he’s ready for his Miracle making a comeback kind of win.

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

 

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It’s Pretty Awesome To Be 99

7 Feb

He can’t wake up at the crack of dawn with you to lift weights, he can’t run the hundreds of drills with you at the stadium, and he can’t be there for the physical therapy when you’re down and out. But you best know that he is definitely in your corner and roots for you with everything he’s got, because he’s got your heart.

Being a player and pouring everything you got out there on the field is one thing … but being the person who roots for you, who’s in your corner, and wants you to have it … that’s something powerful, that’s the X factor. Being in a House of Sports my whole life, I can say I know a little bit about this.

While everyone in Philly was basking in the SuperBowl after glow of taking the crown away from the Big Bad Wolf, I happened to get lost in the story of the 99-year-old fan who witnessed the awesomeness of his team mark an important first time.

This Philly fan that went by the name of Phil Basser and it just made me smile to know that he got to experience the exuberance of such a moment live and in person. When you watch someone witness a bucket list adventure the emotion gets to you. Some people never get to see it happen and you feel bad that they’ve missed out some how. I mean they lived their life and did the best with what they had, but as we all know we can’t control the future of others. We can only control ourselves. So it’s hard when one of your dream of all dreams is in the hands of someone else.

I could imagine Phil as a five-year old with his Eagles t-shirt clapping for that touchdown, or probably watching all the close calls. But this past Sunday was probably the best way to imagine the little sports fan. I didn’t even know Phil, but I was happy to see the camera pan over to him and witness his reaction to one of the best underdog wins I’ve seen this year. To know that he got to live one of his dreams of all dreams made me heart feel good, because as an athlete and fan myself, I’ve felt those feelings. So I know … I know.

This year’s SuperBowl filled with Brady-haters, Fly-Eagle-Fly supporters, and awesome Eli Manning, Vikings, Doritos, and Sprite Commercials will definitely be remembered for one more thing … Phil witnessing the triumph of his team.

For underdogs everywhere … Buen Camino!

 

 

Not A Lot of Luck, But Don’t Forget About The Heart

10 Dec

I thought I used to be somebody.

You’re nothing. Never gonna be nothing. Never gonna go anywhere.

When you’re at the bottom … that’s when big changes start.

For someone that didn’t have much luck he had a lot of heart, and that’s what made me root for him. He reminded me of me.

Heart can be the difference.

Recently I had forgotten how important that lesson was until I saw Invincible again. I forgot how important heart is,  not that I didn’t think it was an important value to have, I’ve always thought it was, I’ve always had it. But others hadn’t seen it in the same way.

There were people around me who felt that “resume” values had more weight in life than “eulogy” values. The corner office, the nice ride, the nice house, the big account … don’t get me wrong it would be nice to have that, and everyone strives for financial security and a stable life. Everyone is out there hustling for it, including me, but heart came in third or fourth for some of those people. Maybe because they valued it less.

I saw the movie at the right time and at the right moment. Just to set me straight. Just because others see nothing, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something there. Everyone has a comeback inside of them, behind the disappointment, bad luck, and heartache. Everyone has one.

One of my favorite moments of the movie was when Vince turned one of the most painful moments of his life into motivation. He turned it into something … into this force inside of him. He dug deep and found his heart.

His wife left him and in the empty apartment left a note … You’re nothing. Never gonna be nothing. Never gonna go anywhere.

He turns that into something.

He doesn’t throw the note out, or burn it. He brings it with him, and it stays with him when he tries out for the Philidelphia Eagles. He puts it in his locker. He looks at it everyday.  It drives him. When he’s at the very bottom he still has his heart.

Never really much luck, but a lot of heart.

I like that moment. I like that he turned something painful  into something good. He embraced that eulogy value when he had nothing, no resume values.

But in the end you remember what people were like, how they made you feel,  and how they treated you, not what kind of job they had, or how much money they made. You remember if they were gracious during good times, or spiteful and hurtful during bad ones.

Heart. And the power of the underdog. Those are some eulogy values I hope to pass onto my kids, the same values I hope not to forget again, the ones I hope will continue to drive me.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

Weekly Image of Life: Blessing of Hope

27 Feb

 

The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption

 

A lot of people get hope from different places and different sources.

Me?

I like to gain hope by watching underdog stories, probably because I’m a 100-t0-1 shot myself.

Andy Dufresne … he’s one of my favorite stories.

He reminds me that “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things …”

 

 

Weekly Image of Life challenge courtesy of This Man’s Journey

 

Easter and Family Stories

6 Apr

 When I think about Easter. I usually think about two people … no … not Jesus and not the Easter Bunny.

A Cute Little Bunny With Some Eggs

A Cute Little Bunny With Some Eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think about my uncle Erick and my Dad. I’ve talked a lot about my Dad and the different things and events that remind me of him. He was an awesome Dad. But I’ve never spoken about my uncle, probably because it saddens me to think that he’s no longer here either.

Two of the most important influences in my life and they both passed away due to crappy-ass diseases they should have never gotten in the first place. These type of terminal diseases should be reserved for jackasses, but instead two of the best guys I know got them and it sucks. It was a situation where I wish Gregory House M.D. was their doctor. 

But he wasn’t and now I just have memories … at least I have those … Easter happened to be one of them.

My uncle usually went all out. Brunches. Egg hunts and Loteria. We’d start in the morning with brunch and continue all the way to a ham dinner and old family stories. One of my favorites happened to be how my uncle became the man with the house, pool, and seven pairs of Levis … 

We had many relatives living with us back in the day. Some did little favors; others did very little. Some stayed months, others years. My uncle Erick stayed the longest. For 13 years, our living room was his bedroom.

Uncle Erick was the coolest one, the brother I never had.  He came over when he was 16-years old. I was only five when he arrived. I don’t remember what he looked like back then, he probably had more hair and weighed less. But what I do remember is that after his first couple of months he bought seven pairs of Levi jeans. He had one for every day of the week and was very proud of that. Erick came from my mom’s side of the family. He was the youngest of nine and the tallest standing at 5-foot-6.

He struggled when he first arrived. Hard core. There were no kids his age living in our building  and those in the neighborhood that were his age wanted to beat him up because he was different. He was ESL – English as a Second Language – and that made him different. But we watched a lot of television together and that helped with the A, B, C’s. “Heckle and Jeckle,” “Felix the Cat,” “the Pink Panther,” “Mighty Mouse,” “Sesame Street,” and “the Electric Company” were my favorites.

Uncle Erick was a fast learner. He had to be. He often ran into the type that didn’t appreciate non-English speakers and came home with messed up hair, dirty clothes, and small bruises here and there. Erick told my parents he had joined the football team, but they knew better.

One day after Erick came home with a very noticeable black eye and bloody nose, my dad took out the old purple Everlast boxing gloves with yellow laces and taught him a couple of moves in the patio. My dad’s compadres, Rosendo and Macedonio, who used to live in apartment A helped out as sparing partners. My dad convinced Erick that he didn’t go through an El Norte experience  of crawling through a tunnel of crap and surviving a voyage in the desert to get pushed around by some mocosos.

My hopscotch evenings were suspended for a while as Rosendo, Macedonio, and dad got into their right jabs, left hooks, and combinations. In no time at all, Erick was light on his feet and heavy with his hands. We never saw bruises after Erick was introduced to the purple Everlasts. He even joined ROTC where he met other ESLers. Eventually he joined the soccer and football teams.

But Erick had goals beyond standing up to the ESL-haters. He had passion, and he knew school would get him there. He studied every night. After everyone went to sleep, he would turn on the big GE flashlight with the built-in clock, lie on the brown sofa, and try to finish his homework.

Despite the nights when the police helicopters would thunder above our building with their flashing lights and sirens, chasing a suspect on the run, Erick would keep solving problems with the Pythagorean Theorem. Despite the loud arguments of people’s parents in the building, Erick would keep looking up words in the orange coffee-stained Webster’s Dictionary in order to finish his english or history homework. And, knowing that those ESL-haters hung out near the park library, Erick would still take a chance every week and walk to the park library to check out the maximum seven books.

Everyone in the building made an effort to help improve his English. They constantly spoke to him in English, as best they could. Dona Margarita, from apartment F, suggested watching those English soap operas that never end, like “GeneralHospital” or “Days of Our Lives.” She even mentioned the night ones like “Dallas” and “Dynasty,” which proved to be juicier.

Don Chuy, from apartment I, recommended shows like “Hunter,” “T.J. Hooker,” and “Hawaii-Five-O.” He said they would help Erick just in case he ran into the police.

Rosendo and Macedonio lent Erick their “Ingles is Easy” tapes, where they taught Erick to say “a little” and not “a leedle.” After a couple of months, Erick learned to speak, read, and write English just as good or even better than anybody in the building.

Erick graduated from high school and got some kind of ESL scholarship from the state of California and a full ride to the University of Southern California. The scholarship was for, what they called, his “commitment to academic excellence in the face of adversity.” It sounded very important and we were all proud of him. My parents, my sister, Rosendo, Macedonio, and everyone else in the building were happy for him. They were even happier because the scholarship was more than a piece of paper. It was proof –evidence—that he’d made it and they were a part of that.

 We threw a party. It was a pachanga with carne asada, frijoles, mole de pollo, arroz, platanos fritos, plenty of Budweiser and the sounds of La Sonora Dynamita playing on our Sanyo stereo. Everyone brought out their vinyl kitchen chairs and we sat in the patio. There were yellow ones with green flowers, brown ones with rusted legs, orange ones with food stains, and white ones with the plastic tearing at the corners. We didn’t mind the wear and tear; we were all family.

Once everyone finished eating, my mom, Dona Margarita, Dona Imelda, my tia Eugenia, and her comadre Letty began swinging their hips to the sounds of cumbia. They all looked like busy washing machines, moving every part of their body with just the right rhythm. Moms could always do stuff like that. They brought Erick out to the center of their circle and continued dancing.

 Uncle Erick was no longer a beginner. He made the transition successfully and everyone respected him because of that. He graduated from that expensive college and moved on.

We had a party for that too. He left la vecindad and moved into a building with no bullet holes or cone factories nearby. But he always came over for dinner.

When he grew up Uncle Erick  no longer wore Levi Strauss to work, but a suit-and-tie. Erick, who got chased by suspect elements at age 16, who spoke no English when he got here, and who slept on my couch for 13 years, became an attorney in private practice. He specialized in immigration law.

I miss my uncle. I miss the stories. I miss him at Easter.

I Am … The Underdog Lover

19 Feb

The day after I had my rocky-road-cookie-dough ice cream meltdown, I scanned my books, journals, and old emails in order to get a positive spin on a pretty much crappy marathon of a day. You know I was looking for something to be grateful for, other than the obvious choices you see in fortune cookies.

I found a couple of inspirational quotes most of them being from people like Tony Robbins, Joel Osteen, Dale Carnegie, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Winston Churchill. Churchill … I didn’t realize he was badass. I guess you would have to be in order to be the Prime Minister of a country. My all time favorite: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

I thought dude … what up brother from another mother. I forgot about that one. I usually have that magnet posted on my fridge, but considering that I don’t have a fridge right now, my magnets are in the closet. Winston, you read my mind.  So I smiled and forged ahead.

Then I came across a list of what I thought were inspirational movies to watch … underdogs. You know fictional people or based-on-a-true-story people living a crappy life and then turning it around like the Pursuit of Happiness, October Sky, and Shawshank Redemption. I wasn’t a homeless unemployed single parent, although I could be. I wasn’t living in a small miner town getting my dream squashed, although dream squashing runs rampant over here. And I wasn’t falsely imprisoned forced to cook the books for the warden. Yeah … no prison time here. I thought … well I guess things could be worse. But they all made it, despite their crappy existences. I thought, I love these movies … this is what I am. I am the underdog lover.

I wish for a better existence, which is why I probably had the meltdown. Maybe wives and mothers with two kids that have a nanny, chef, personal shopper, and cleaning lady don’t have meltdowns, if they do it’s probably over their dry cleaning not being ready on time.  I wish I had dry cleaning to drop off, but then maybe my life wouldn’t be as funny. Underdogs … we’re a bad-ass species. Funny too.

So I realized I was grateful for underdog stories.