The adversity of sports |

The adversity of sports

Perseverance. It’s a word we all know.

Adversity ” another familiar word.

Adversity doesn’t always make one stronger, but the lack of perseverance will usually lead down the road of failure.

Most of the time, the agony of failure makes us stronger. It helps us focus, makes us angry, determined, even empowered. Failure or disappointment is a great motivator.

Many times success starts from failure or disappointment.

Some will simply accept failure and look at adversity as the impenetrable wall to success.

This is what makes perseverance the necessary ingredient to overcome adversity.

The combination of adversity, perseverance and, ultimately, success, makes for some of the most satisfying accomplishments in life.

To earn something is so much better than to be given something.

This year, we’ve seen many high school athletes embody the unique combination of adversity, perseverance and, finally, success.

Maybe no other athlete demonstrates this more than Rifle High School senior James Conrardy. Three years and three third place medals from the state wrestling tournament. So close to the coveted gold medal but always coming up a little short.

He experienced great successes along the way. He’s the only four-time regional champion in school history. Wow, that’s a tremendous accomplishment.

But the ultimate accomplishment in high school wrestling is a state championship.

This year, there was no bronze medal for Conrardy. This year, it was gold that was placed around his neck.

The pressure and stress of wanting to win that gold medal so badly, haunted the young man. The torment of being so close created unbelievable pressure. He worked and trained and focused on what had to be done. His entire motivation was about winning a gold medal.

James Conrardy persevered, he overcame. There’s no sympathy in athletics. Everyone wants to win. There are no gifts just because you want something or think you deserve it. Everything is earned.

James Conrardy grappled with adversity along the way. Doubts, pressure, pain, disappointment, injuries ” all roadblocks that can become excuses. In his second-round match, Conrardy injured his right knee. A few hours later he had to wrestle in the semifinals.

Adversity in the form of an injury could have easily been an acceptable excuse for yet another missed opportunity. But Conrardy didn’t allow that to happen. He won the match, then on Saturday, he won the 140-pound state championship match. Then he thrust his arms in the air, a simple, unflamboyant demonstration of victory.

A victory and accomplishment he’d dreamed of since he was a young boy.

His face showed the jubilation of one of the great accomplishments in high school sports. But there was also relief in his expression.

Finally. Finally. Finally, he would stand on the highest step of the podium.

It was a long, painful road for Conrardy. One littered with the potholes of adversity, but one overcome through perseverance and determination.

How sweet that victory must have been. No more disappointment at the Pepsi Center. Finally, a gold medal and a feeling of accomplishment few can ever understand.

This was one medal that was indeed earned.

“No more thirds,” he said after the match. A simple response etched with relief and satisfaction.

The Glenwood Springs football team knows about adversity and perseverance, too.

Their story is one of legend now. An undefeated season and a Class 3A state championship. The title didn’t come easily, and the Demons had to overcome the adversity and disappointment of the tormenting loss in the 2007 playoffs.

They used that loss as motivation to not fail again once the 2008 playoffs arrived.

Watching the jubilant celebration after their win over Fort Morgan in the state title game, one could see the relief of success.

They used a 2007 loss to not lose another game. That motivation created pressure and doubts along the way. But they persevered to become state champs. And their faces showed the emotions of jubilation and relief. But their smiles also reflected a satisfaction of knowing they earned something by persevering over all adversity.

Success shouldn’t come easily. Adversity tests our resolve. Perseverance is what makes success possible. Perseverance is the shovel used to bury adversity.

For Conrardy, the Glenwood Springs football team and so many others, slices of life are about winning and losing. But it’s also about the roadblocks and the challenges along the way.

Life is about accepting adversity, failure and disappointment as part of life, and using it to motivate you to overcome and to ultimately succeed.

Life is about perseverance and not giving up.

That’s life boiled down to its simplest definition.

Dale Shrull is the managing editor of the Post Independent.

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