The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

March 22, 2010

We had some very high highs this weekend and some very low lows!

We were up and at the club again early Sunday morning for the  “Sudden-Death Red Division Quarter-Final”.

Evan had been fretting before the game and we heard him use the word “pressure” many times.  We told the kids that the only pressure we were putting on them was to go out and have fun, just like they did in every other game.

Todd took them over to the club, as he did the whole weekend and we followed behind.  They did everything as a team this weekend.  They had to have time to change their shoes, stretch out, sign in, etc.

We  grabbed seats upstairs in front of the window and waited for the game to start.  We watched and listened as other parents & coaches were giving their teams last-minute words of advice, but we stayed out of their way and left it all up to Todd.  When they hit the ice, we could tell that they weren’t as loose as they had been during the games the two days before.  The skip of the other team was from Chester and exuded confidence from the moment they were out on the ice.  I noticed that he had a big smile during the handshakes before the start of the game and was chatting easily in the house while the game was going on.  At the same time, Evan was looking stiff and serious.

As the game started, Uncle Mike and Aunt Kim arrived and then Ginna, Beanah & the girls showed up, although we hadn’t known they were coming.  Apparently, the girls had been awake early, so they decided to hop in the car and come back! Sarah, especially, didn’t seem so thrilled to be there.  We hadn’t brought the cooler in and she was looking for treats.

The first end was pretty evenly played, but the other team ended up stealing one.  The kids were having a hard time reading the ice, and in End 2 many of the first rocks thrown just slid right through.  They did managed to each have a rock in the house in the second end, but their’s was closer to the button and they ended up stealing another point in the second end.

In the third end, by the time it was Evan’s turn to throw, there were two rocks in the ring – one red & one blue and with red (them) lying shot. Evan and Lindsey discussed what to do and made the call that Evan would try to draw (a shot he’s confident with) to get at least one point.  Todd was frantically trying to catch their attention from behind the glass to call a time-out.  The skip of the other team noticed and pointed it out to Evan who did call a time out.

Todd suggested that rather than trying to draw for a maximum of one point, he should try to take out the red and then they would be ahead with two.  They went with that play and Evan missed the shot.  The other team stole a third point, putting our team under enormous pressure in the final end!  They had to get three to tie the game.

In the fourth end, they started filling up the house with rocks.  Their skip tried to knock one of ours out, but hit his own through instead.  We had a chance!!  Evan had hammer, and a chance to tie the game.  He threw his rock, but it didn’t make it into the house.  The other skip threw his last rock and knocked one of ours out, leaving us with no chance of taking three; the most we could get was two.

Evan conceded the game and they all shook hands.

Todd brought the kids upstairs and I could tell from the look on Evan’s face that he just wanted to be by himself.  He didn’t want anyone congratulating him or even talking to him because he was close to the breaking point.  We said our goodbyes to everyone who had come to cheer them on and sent my parents & the girls back home.  They had been planning to leave the girls with us, but hadn’t brought bathing suits and we hadn’t checked out of the hotel yet, not knowing what they day held.

The whole team went back downstairs to thank the officials for a great tournament and the other three were all joking around with one another and getting ready to go back to the hotel for a swim.  Evan was hanging back by himself and taking his time getting changed.  I tried to encourage him along and he asked me if he could spend the Lucky Loonie that my mother had given him before the tournament started.  I said, “Oh no, Evan.  I think she intended for that to be something that you keep with you to take for luck as you go on, but I have a Loonie here (holding it out to him) and you can spend that.”

And the tears started.

And once they started, he couldn’t stop.

He shut down in that moment and wouldn’t talk and refused to go back in the van with Todd and the team.  He just wanted to be by himself to wallow.  We all tried to encourage him to go with the team and the other kids were chanting “EVAN! EVAN! EVAN!” to no avail.  Finally, in the interest of getting back to the hotel, we sent the others on and he rode back with us.  During the ride, we tried to talk & reason with him, but he would have none of it. He shifted the blame to me, saying he was upset because I wouldn’t let him spend his own money!

I got out at the hotel while Evan went to park with D’Arcy.  I told Todd & Janice that I felt that the tears were not because they lost the game, but because he felt he had lost the game for the team.  He had been off and didn’t make any of his shots.  Everyone else knew that the team didn’t feel that way – except Evan.

I don’t know what else D’Arcy & Evan talked about while they parked the van, but it was close to an hour later when they came in to the hotel room with a helmet full of treats.  Evan apologized and gave me a big hug, then offered me a brownie he had bought for me.  He had a different treat for everyone there.  He got into his bathing suit and D’Arcy took him down to the pool while I packed up.  I went down when all our things were together and he was in the hot tub by himself while the rest of the kids frolicked in the pool.

We told them it was time to go upstairs because it would soon be lunch time and time to go.  Madison’s mom was chomping at the bit to get back to their family, so they were ready to leave as soon as Madison was changed.  We had a brief team meeting in the hall outside our rooms where Evan gave each of them the treat he had bought for them and said to them, “Thank you for being on my team.”  They talked about the tournament and the fact that during the first practice, Todd had wondered what he had gotten himself into because they were all having a hard time and couldn’t get their rocks across the hog-line.  That prompted a lot of laughter! We discussed what next year would bring.  Todd told us that in his mind, Evan is a natural Skip and that’s the position he would groom him for.  He’s a real thinker and understands the game.  At the same time, he told Evan that when you’re skip, you get to celebrate the highs, but you also own the lows and need to learn how to shake it off.  (Easier said than done when you’re eleven!)

They will be too old for pre-juniors next year, so have decided that Christopher will join the team and they want Alex to be their 5th.  Not sure if that will work because he’s two years younger than the others, but we’ll see what happens!  Todd is definitely interested in continuing on with them and we couldn’t ask for a better coach!

We all said our good-byes and we went to Grandma & Grandpa’s for lunch.  We had a great visit and Evan was actually quite pleasant.  Grandma even offered to let them take their lunch in front of the television, but they opted to stay at the table with us instead!  It’s not often that we get a quiet visit by ourselves with D’Arcy’s parents, so I think the boys felt quite special! We cut our visit short because we had to make another stop at Mike & Kim’s on the way out of the city; they had some stuff for us.  As it turned out, they had two antique curling stones – real ones, heavy ones – that they sent along with us.  They boys think they are great!

They slept all the way home and when we got here, Evan was shutting down again.  My parents realized what was going on and left fairly quickly.  As it turned out, the Women’s World Championship Curling was on, so we went back & forth between watching that and checking for the Little Rocks updates on the computer.  The team that won against us was knocked out in the next game.

Evan was still glum, so I dug out a book on “Curling like a Champion”, written by Colleen Jones, which D’Arcy had given me for Christmas a few years back.  I was trying to find some words of wisdom in it for him.  I showed him the book and pointed out that it even had diagrams of plays from actual big-name games.  People who we had met while we were at the Brier.  And then we saw that Jennifer Jones, who was  the skip of the team curling in the game we were watching on television at that moment had made a play similar to the one Evan missed and she had missed it too!

Serendipity!

He started to talk and to open up.  He expressed his disappointment, and when I told him that no one on his team blames him for missing the shot, he replied quietly through his tears, “But I do.

We had a great night after that.  Evan was still glum, but not morose.  Alex kept telling me that he was just happy that they had made it to the Red Division in the first place!  We talked in their room long past bedtime, but it was good talking.  While we were up there, D’Arcy brought the laptop up with some video clips of some of their best shots of the weekend that he had set to music.  They made us all laugh and prompted Evan to start remembering the great shots he had made in the other games.

They have curling on Tuesday and Evan has decided to leave band early so he can go and be with his team.

After all, they have to start getting ready for Juniors!

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