It was 4th and 22. They were winless. It was looking bad. There were 2 minutes to go. They were only 3 points behind but it was 4th and 22 and it was all going wrong. Then it happened, wonder of wonders—a touchdown pass. The bench rose as a single man and cheered. We were on our feet in the stands; the underdogs were going to win! It was the defining moment of the season, the one that made it all worthwhile. Describing this moment afterwards, my son would begin by saying “Did you hear about the Miracle?”
In another game, one of the receivers made a great catch and was running down the field for all he was worth, but a defender was gaining on him fast and it didn’t look like he was going to be able to score. Then, out of nowhere, a team-mate from the offense came barreling straight into the defender, taking him out and leaving his team-mate clear for a touchdown. I was surprised to find myself moved by these actions, as they crashed into each other, each prepared to take a hit for their team. I was getting a lesson on teamwork from these young boys, even although they had so recently learned it themselves. They had started the season as a group of individuals, and they ended it having learned to play together as a team.
They couldn’t all be quarterbacks, or receivers, or defenders, or linemen. Each had to learn a unique role. A team full of quarterbacks would be useless, a team full of receivers would be a pushover, but when everyone played their own part well, a team was born. When that offensive player crashed into the defender and knocked him out of the way, he contributed as much to the touchdown as the guy who carried the ball.
That PeeWee season was a demonstration in microcosm of the key elements of good teamwork. Win or lose, they all showed up for every game and practise prepared to give it their best shot. No one coasted. No one quit after the first (or second, or third) loss. They kept showing up for the games until, by their last game, they were able to give the champions a shock and a run for their money. They had learned that if you work hard together, and each contributes their unique skill, you can accomplish more together than you can alone.
They bore the losses together and enjoyed their win together. They learned what it feels like to win and what it is like to fail. They made plays, got first downs, and scored touchdowns, but they also got some penalties, and made more than a few mistakes. They did it all together, and they formed a team. And in the end they found out that they could count on each other for Miracles, even when it was 4th and 22.