This week, the Cleveland State Men’s Golf Team ended its season without winning the Horizon League Championship, something they’ve done for the last five years straight (and 8 out of the last 11).
That means no NCAA Championship post-season tournament for the Vikings for the first time since 2013.
But head coach Steve Weir offered some great perspective about the change in fortune for the program, in a letter he first posted to Twitter:
I was asked if this was the “end of an era” as our men’s team didn’t win the Horizon League Championship for the first time since 2013. Five straight years we came to Orlando at the end of April and came home with the trophy and a trip to the NCAA tournament each time (plus 8 out of the last 11 overall). This year, while we may not be bringing home any hardware and we won’t be preparing for a NCAA Selection show and our senior won’t get to design our championship ring. We are bringing something a little more valuable home — Motivation. Our men’s team left Mission Inn resort more motivated today than our team has been in a long time (also possibly a reason we didn’t win this year, but that’s another story!!), our boys want to make sure that we do the work necessary to put ourselves in position to win our 6th out of 7 next year.
As the coach, I obviously enjoy the winning and the low rounds and watching the kids graduate and get jobs and blah blah blah. But I have learned to appreciate everything that comes along the way so much more. This was easily our worst season competitively over the last 9 seasons. This also may be the most fun I’ve had coaching a group in all 12 years. Their personalities are scarily close to mine: the jokes and banter are non stop, like they never ever ever stop with a few of them. But they are the family that I spend time with while I am away from Alicia and the rug rats. They are the ones that I spend several weekends a year with. They are the ones asking how Kinslees softball practice went and how Parker is feeling. They are the ones that make a trip like this weekend, while not “successful”, they made it rewarding.
They say the true character of a team displays itself during adversity or at times of failure. Our guys lost for the first time in 6 years and the first thing they wanted to do was go watch our ladies finish up as they were pushing for the League championship as well as one of their friends/teammates was fighting for the ladies individual championship. They weren’t pouting and hiding from embarrassment, they were cheering and clapping and encouraging their teammates of the opposite sex.
Once both teams were done, it’s time to pack up and drive to the airport to catch our flight, but our guys wanted to make sure that we watched Wright State accept their Championship Trophy and and genuinely applauded the entire time. Yes, they were upset they didn’t win, but the class that they showed in defeat means far more to me than any victory celebration ever has.
We struggled this year. A lot. Like a lot a lot. Like scores that we haven’t posted, ever. But I will go down swinging with this crew any day of the week and can’t wait until we get back at it in September at Turning Stone (only 130 short days away).
Victories aren’t always measured in trophies or rings. It’s the people that make it all worth it.