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Wie blijft rustig wint. (Who keeps calm wins.)

Wie blijft rustig wint. (Who keeps calm wins.)

It was down to the wire. One minute left and we were up by just two points.

We were just up by 10, but the opposing team scored eight straight–many off of sloppy turnovers. I called a time out.

Wie blift rustig wint. (Who keeps calm wins.)

I explained that the other team was hyped up, but also frustrated with our defense. They were frazzled but also excited to have caught up. We needed to “keep our heads about us.” Because I have no idea how to say that in Dutch and figured it would turn into a vocabulary time out, I let them have just one word: rustig. (Calm or quiet.)

I have a clear image of a silent samurai or some warrior who skillfully, quietly and even slowly overwhelms his opponent. The more angry and frustrated the opponent gets, the easier it is for the calm one to win. The quiet one can even play off of the weaknesses that he sees in the outraged other.

When you’re calm, you can see more clearly.

Yes, I completely realize we’re talking about 13-year old boys, full of adrenaline, hormones and frikandel broodjes and one might assume that terms such as “silent” or “calm” or “skillful” might not apply. But I think we might underestimate the power of clarity and not forget that, in the heat of battle, they (occasionally) think back to, “What did the coach say again during the time out?”

If they can arrive at a level of peace, if they can wait just another half of a second before they make that pass, it might just cleverly outmaneuver the jumping beans on the defense. Maybe even an unconscious notion of an idea of patience or one notch down on the stress level and we hold back on the pass that’s about to get intercepted.

Maybe I’m digging too deep into this. Nah, me!? 😉 *

We kept our heads about us and made three steals in the last minute, didn’t turn the ball over and scored six unanswered points and won the game by eight, quieted the local crowd and tears and screams of joy filled our little side of the visitor’s part of the gym and you’d think we won gold at the Olympics.

But that’s just it. This is gold at the Olympics for these kids. Maybe not next year or in ten years, but for today, it was the place they wanted to be and they kept it together, got rustig and won the game that sealed their spot as second place in the league.

One player was crying almost hysterically and another player consoled him quickly as he was concerned.

“What’s wrong? What is it?” he screamed out of concern and curiosity.

“I’m just so happy,” he said, “I’m just so happy.”

Did calm win the day?

* It’s what I do.

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