Finish… and Finish Strong

It was December 11, 1981.  I was 14 years old and my junior varsity basketball coach invited me and one of my teammates to a Cal Poly Women’s Basketball game.  It was the first time I had ever been to a college game.  I had no idea what to expect.  

As we took our seats our attention was drawn to the locker room in the corner of the gymnasium.  We could hear banging on lockers and rhythmic clapping.  The team was getting pumped… and so was I.  They were shouting and cheering and the crowd began to join in.  Then came the sound of a single base guitar and the tap of a hi-hat cymbal as Stevie Nicks “Edge of Seventeen” blared over the PA system.  The shouting within the locker room died down and the cheers of the crowd kicked in as the team emerged from the locker room.  They ran around the court in a single file line, split into three equal groups precisely positioned on their half of the court and began their warm ups.  I was entranced.  I was suddenly in love with a game I knew so little about.  It took my breath away.

 

Members of the 1981-82 Cal Poly Women's Basketball National Championship Team
Members of the 1981-82 Cal Poly Women’s Basketball National Championship Team

 

Just last week, this same team of women that I saw back in 1981 was honored at Cal Poly.  They were the first team to win the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship for Cal Poly.  It had been 30 years since their win.  I just had to go.  I just had to see these once heroes of mine.  As I sat in the bleachers and watched them take the court during the half-time presentation it hit me.  They were the reason!  They were the reason I fell in love with basketball.  They were the reason I went to Cal Poly.  They were the reason I played basketball night and day, every day, trying to get better.  It was them!  The impression they left on that 14-year-old girl in the stands during that very first game literally changed my life.

They had no way of knowing.  They had no way of knowing that what they did that season was far more than winning a National Championship…as if that wasn’t enough!  They were impacting young lives.  And I’m sure I wasn’t alone.  Their goal that season was to win… and win they did.  Their goal was to play good basketball… and they did.  They had no idea however, what else they were doing.  God used them in a very profound way to forever shape my life and I would bet countless other lives as well.

I not only went on to be a graduate of Cal Poly, I also became a member of the women’s basketball team.  While I never donned the green and gold uniform as a player, God allowed me to serve as Team Manager for the team my freshman and sophomore years.  I got to practice with the team daily, sit on the bench with them during games, and occasionally travel with them.  (I even got my own championship ring from the 85-86 season!)  Through that experience, I gained the skills I needed to coach at the high school level.  I also what I learned those two years very early preparation for what I do now as an Emergency Manager.  I cannot imagine what my life would be like now without the influence of that team. 

So how does this little trip down memory lane relate to “Being the Glove?”  I believe it is a reminder to each of us to be faithful in what God calls us to do.  To finish what He has given us to start and to finish strong.  We may think our goal is a national championship.  Or on the other end of the spectrum, we might think there is no real goal or purpose at all for we have been given to do.  The truth is we just don’t know all that God has planned!  We have no idea how He plans to influence or impact others by what we do.  We may think that no one is watching or paying attention.  We may think what we do doesn’t really matter to anyone but ourselves.  I guarantee you, those women had no idea who I was in that crowd of fans.  They had no idea what they were doing was going to impact me.  But they were faithful.  They were faithful to finish what they started, to put in the hard work, to not get down when they faced defeat, and to finish strong. 

Be faithful.  See things through to the end.  Let God direct your path and be obedient to see it through to the end.  You have no idea how He will use His plans in your own life or in the lives of others.

Lord, thank you for that Cal Poly team.  Bless each and every member of it.  Thank you for using them to shape my life.  Help me to be faithful to complete the tasks you have given me to do.  Help me not to give up but to push on and to rely on You for my strength.  Thank you, Jesus, for your faithfulness, amen.

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