Years ago, I watched an interview with Anson Dorrance, women’s head soccer coach at The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. I am a lifelong Tarheel fan. Both of my parents graduated from UNC and I bleed Carolina blue. My dad and I used to watch anything about UNC that we could get our hands on and one day that happened to be an interview with Anson Dorrance.
The short interview that I watched changed my life. The ironic thing about this is that I wasn’t then nor am I now a big soccer fan. I’ve never played in a soccer game in my life and I rarely watch the sport but in this online clip Coach Dorrance told a story that I have found to be applicable in all aspects of life.
He said that he was once driving by a park in Chapel Hill and he saw a girl running wind sprints back and forth all by herself. He was intrigued that someone would be doing this completely on their own and so he drove closer. As he approached he recognized the girl as one of his players: Mia Hamm. Hamm would go on to become an olympian, she would later be considered one of the greatest female soccer players of all-time but it was what she did when she thought no one was watching that made her great.
Dorrance later wrote in a book “The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one else is watching.”
I have thought many times since about how ultimately it is what we do when we think no one is watching that makes a difference in our lives.
F. David Stanley said in the 1993 General Conference, “Great athletes are hard workers. Points, rebounds, assists, tackles, goals, and home runs are all the result of long hours of painstaking practice and hard work. The bulk of that practice will always be on your own, away from the coach. Victory is brought to pass by one’s personal diligence and commitment to hard work. The view of a champion, and the glory that surrounds him, must never be overshadowed by the long process of becoming one.”
This is true, not only for athletics but for all of us. These moments when we think that no one is watching shape us as human beings and help us become what God intended us to become.
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