Eileen McCann is a junior outfielder on the Iona College softball team. This season, McCann will be taking Iona fans inside the world of not only an Iona softball player, but that of a student-athlete. After two short seasons, McCann has had a very successful career at Iona. A two-time MAAC Champion, McCann is a Mass Communications major with a concentration in Public Relations.
OUR GREATEST GLORY
Losing sucks. Our Twitter recently tweeted, “@ICSoftball: I hate losing even more than I love winning", and it’s true. As athletes, we have a tendency to focus more on the faults of our game than the strengths. When we do what we’re supposed to, and play the game to the best of our abilities and win, we don’t think twice about it. In our mind, everything happened as it should, we made minimal to no errors, and now it’s time to get the next one. After a win, we always look ahead to winning the next game. We don’t hang on to the positive aspects of the game we just played, we accept it as success and move on. After suffering from a loss, however, especially one that occurred at the hand of untimely errors or poor at-bats, we focus on our shortcomings displayed in that particular game long after the game is over. A loss sticks with you much longer than a win. A loss will ride next to you on the bus, sleep next to you that night, wake up with you, and even accompany you to the next game. This unbalanced culmination of short-term and long-term memory between wins and losses is an area in which we need to strongly improve.
My teammate, Beth Kann, recently spoke to me about how she’s becoming frustrated with the fact that our team has yet to lose in a productive manner or, “take a productive loss”, as she stated. Losing is expected and, although it stings, it also serves as a tremendous opportunity to improve. During these past two weekends in both Longwood and Baltimore, we made mistakes, more mistakes than what is acceptable. Upon making these mistakes, we became tense, anxious, and fearful that we would make another one and, in most cases, that’s exactly what we did. Errors and poor at-bats came one after another. We succumbed to the harsh criticisms of others in the moment of our mistakes, and allowed them to get the best of us. Once that happened, we were no longer confident in our ability to put on our own shoes, let alone field a ball cleanly or put forth a productive at-bat. Not surprisingly, the games in which we allowed ourselves to reach this level of apprehension resulted in a loss. After the Longwood weekend, we came away with three losses and a single win, leaving Virginia unsatisfied, upset, and focusing on our mistakes. The bus ride home was quiet and tense. Nothing productive was taken away from the weekend when many things should have been.
Our games in Baltimore started off much better than the weekend prior. Yet, after winning our first two games against James Madison and Coppin State, we took a loss to Princeton for the second year in a row. As it appeared to have all the makings of yet another unproductive loss that had us all pointing the finger at someone else, two of our captains, Alyssa Maiese and Chelsea Sheehan, called us back to talk as a team. We spoke to each other about how we were feeling during the game, why we’re making errors, and what we needed from one another to improve. By the end of our talk, we established that after every game, win or loss, we would speak as a team and everyone would state something productive that they took from the game. This discussion was my favorite part of our weekend, as it served to make our loss productive and also set the tone for further production in the future.
The following day, we played with heart. We played with fire and intensity in a way that I had yet to see us play this year. After trailing UMBC in the top of the seventh, we fought back, strung several hits together, and sent the game into extra innings. We answered back in the eighth with six runs, winning 10-4. In the next game against James Madison, we found ourselves down 8-2 pretty early. Once again we found intensity in our offense and answered back with five runs, making the score 8-7. (A big congratulations to Angie Nieves for nabbing her first collegiate hit, make that hits, during the game!)
The game was called in the sixth due to lightning in the distance, denying us our last opportunity to win the game. Those last two games allowed us to leave Baltimore on a high note. They allowed us to know we are capable of doing great things, of persevering and winning a game at any point no matter how severe the deficit may be. That final loss to James Madison was the first real productive loss we have had this year. We knew what we did wrong, and we knew what we did right. I didn’t see a single teammate of mine hang their head after that game, and that alone allowed the entire weekend on a whole to be productive.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.” -Confucius
** this is a great article about game mentality sent to me by teammate Deanne Algeo, courtesy of her father Rick Algeo