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One Game Away

August 23, 2007 09:03 AM

A last minute offer
“Come to Mobile and play.
We’ve got a slot open,
but we must know today.”

The kids were all ready.
“Let’s do it!” they said.
All the parents were worried---
dollar signs in their heads.

But we loaded them up
one bright August day;
never guessing they’d finish
just One Game Away.

The first match of the week-end

we were playing Kentucky.
One player was still driving;
If he made it we’d be lucky.

The match time arrived
just as our player did, too.
He jumped out of the car
and he threw on his shoes.

South Carolina 38
Kentucky 14.
The kids all played great;
the best that I’d seen.

“Good start” the coach told them
“That’s the way you should play!”
Never thinking they’d finish
just One Game Away.

Nervous sleep that first night;
They just couldn’t settle down.
No one would dare say it,
but they all wanted the crown.

“No Excuses” we said.
“No matter what – always try”.
As the team came together
“Next Point!” was our battle cry.

Alabama was next and
when they posted the score
It was South Carolina 40,
Alabama 4.

We had first place by 2 points
but with the best teams yet to play.
There was no way of knowing
what would happen that day.

On to Louisiana,
a strong team; in third place.
We tried hard to stay focused
and keep a smile on our face.

Each one fought their hardest
I wish you could have seen.
South Carolina 40,
Louisiana 14.

The biggest test was coming
against Georgia’s ‘A’ team.
They went to Nationals last year.
To beat them was a dream.

“Next Point”! We all chanted,
Work hard and have fun.
We shocked even ourselves
by a score of 31 – 21.

One match left to play
to win our division.
By now each one knew
exactly the mission.

If Georgia scores 40
as we all thought they might,
We needed 26 more points
to win in our flight.

With Arkansas to play,
Our work was not done.
They only trailed Georgia
in points by just one.

So the competition began
on the battleground of green.
South Carolina 40,
Arkansas 17.

Under pressure some fold,
while others will shine.
Out of 200 possible points,
we had scored 189.

In the other division,
a beast was advancing.
North Carolina beat them all—
to the finals they were prancing.

Were we up to the challenge
of this tense final match?
No coach or spectator
could guess what would hatch.

As each match went on
I knew it would be close
The coaches were nervous-
who wanted it most?

Down by 7 points
with mixed doubles to play.
It was next to impossible,
there wasn’t much I could say.

“One game at a time”
I said ten thousand times.
And our team kept their focus
with the match on the line.

We couldn’t stay with them--
“It just can’t be done”.
But at the end of the mixed
we had won it 8 -1.

So still we were tied
in this battle so rare.
29 games each
in the hot Alabama air.

The officials all gathered;
a tiebreaker was rational.
To decide which of these teams
would go on to the Nationals.

Mixed doubles it was;
All nerves were raw.
For the players it was hard
to even swing at a ball.

We fought to the finish.
Tried as hard as we might.
But North Carolina prevailed
and would celebrate that night.

Who knows what will happen
to each child on our team
as they go forth in life
and follow their dream.

But for one August week-end
they had such a time.
Overcoming each hurdle
that seemed too high to climb.

They’ll remember the battle
They’ll remember the fun
They’ll remember the friends
In the years that will come.

“I believe in you” I told them.
“Believe in yourselves, too”.
I hope they still do that
when they’re a hundred and two.

When they look back forever
I hope they all say
“We remember much more
than being One Game Away”.




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