Or just plain “guts”.
Pressed by a reporter for his definition of “guts”, American writer – and Nobel Laureate – Ernest Hemingway responded in his typical, storied fashion, saying:
“By ‘guts’ I mean, grace under pressure”.
An apt definition.
Performing with grace under pressure illustrates the very essence of competitive athletics at its highest levels.
Time and again, “guts” has shown that it can and will prevail over talent.
Time and again, a superior opponent has succumbed to unrelenting effort and unbridled passion.
Perseverance deepened by courage, will girded by “want to” and grit worn as your uniform can seize the day.
Far more often than you think, champions are forged and tempered in that state of grace under pressure.
Playing through exhaustion, pain and personal limitations.
Staring down fear and failure.
Choosing to perform on a plane that one never imagined existed.
Dan Gable, a world-renowned collegiate and Olympic wrestler exemplified this when he said:
“Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.”
This is a team that has mined that hard to find alloy.
This team has guts.
Time and again you have found a way to press on, to fight for one more goal, to block one more shot, to come back one more time.
You have faced the uncertainty that accompanies injury as well as the anxiety of knowing that the next moment could be the last for all of you as this team.
Yet despite all of that adversity – you have pressed on.
And once again, you will need to dig into those reserves for that hard to find alloy.
And mine the vein that runs deep within this team.
Revel in this moment you have created for each other and make this day yours alone.
Embrace the challenges you will meet – “as one”.
For you are in possession of this alloy ladies.
The stuff of champions.
True “grace under pressure. ”
* Revised and reprinted from a letter sent to the HHS Girls Volleyball team on 10/29/2009 – in the WIAA volleyball sectional semi-finals.”