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Passion, Perspective & Perfection | Community Spirit

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Passion, Perspective & Perfection
Passion, Perspective & Perfection

Some people may think living in Vienna / Northern Virginia is too fast paced, too "type A" - just "too much". But not me! What I've learned is that it's all about passion, perspective and (gasp!) even perfection. Really?

One of the things I love about living in Vienna is the passion people bring to whatever they are doing. Whether it's gardening, sports, work, raising money for charity - whatever it is that they are involved with, they give it 110%.

If you have followed our blog regularly, then you know one of our passions is baseball. We've written about Yeonas Park, Warhawk baseball, "Small Town Baseball & Big City Dreams" & more. And so this week, we have the final wrap up about Madison High School's baseball season. It's written by one of those Vienna folks I love - someone who is passionate about baseball, but more importantly who is passionate about his family.

Dave Graham (father of Madison baseball player Jonny Graham) retired several years ago and is a fixture at the Madison High School baseball games. At the home games, you'll find him right behind home plate - with scorebook in hand and taking notes for the post-game write ups he does after each game. Being a scorekeeper myself, I enjoy sitting with him and discussing the game as it plays out - hit or error, good call or bad, did you mark that as a double or a single advanced to second on an error?

But really as we sit and watch the games, I find that I am learning about much more than baseball from him. I'm learning about more important things - love, sacrifice, priorities, faith in action. I can't share all of that with you here - but I have definitely been given a gift by watching this man and the devotion he has for God, his wife & 4 children and how he lives out his faith & love through action. When you read his post below, you'll get a glimpse of what I'm talking about. Because for Dave, it's about passion, perspective & perfection.

The Madison season is over, but if you get a chance to come to a game next year, you just might want to pull up a chair behind home plate next to Dave Graham. You never know what gift he may give you.

Here's Dave Graham's season wrap up:


The title to last year’s epilogue was “A Season to Savor…and Build On.” You will note that this year’s title is similar. Some may not feel like savoring this season, at least not yet, which is why the “(Really)” was added.

So much of life is driven by how we choose to view things. Is the glass half empty or half full? Chuck Swindoll captured it by saying that life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it. The season recap is an opportunity to put that philosophy into action. The epilogue is a challenge because unless the team wins a State championship, the season ends on a losing note. Often our impression of something is heavily influenced by our most recent experience. Will we let a season ending loss color our perception of the whole year?

Those that choose to think the glass is half empty would say that we didn’t do any better this year than last year. While we won three more games in 2011 than 2010, those additional victories came in a Spring break tournament that was tough but not as tough as the one we went to last year. Last year we finished second in the Liberty District regular season while this year we tied for the second best record and were the third seed due to the tie breaker. Last year we could blame our loss in the ultimate game on a freak injury that sidelined our best pitcher. It is a much bigger stretch to blame this year’s loss on a freak rainstorm that lasted for twelve pitches. Finally, at least last year our season ended with a loss to the eventual State champion. This year the team that beat us lost in the State championship game.

The glass is half full argument is much more compelling. Nineteen wins was the most since 2007. This team repeated as champion of the Liberty District tournament. How many teams have done that in the last fifteen years? Other than Madison, none. This year we were one of four teams in the Northern Region who were still playing in June. How many Northern Region were not playing in June? Twenty six. How many of the four teams in last year’s Northern Region semifinals made it back to the semifinals this year? Two, Madison and Lake Braddock. Ironically, the teams that lost in the semifinals this year (Madison and Stone Bridge) eliminated the teams that played for the championship last year (West Springfield and Woodson).

So, to dismiss this year’s accomplishments by saying that we didn’t do any better than last year ignores how hard it is to win a Liberty District championship and get to the Northern Region semifinals once, let alone in back to back seasons. The last loss was disappointing but we can’t allow it to cloud that fact that we had a great year.

We have to admit that we lost to a better team. We could have beaten them but we would have had to be perfect, or at least near perfect. Imagine trying to recap the season for South County. After ending our boys’ season they went on to win three more games and stood on the brink of matching Madison for the only perfect season in State history. Then one of their key players got hurt in the semifinals and couldn’t pitch in the next game. Sound familiar? His replacement pitched well but the team lost in the championship game to finish 28-1. One game short of perfection. Such a great season and yet so much disappointment at the end. What would you say to them?

I would ask them how they define perfection. And then I would refer them to the movie “Friday Night Lights” which tells the true story of a team that lost the 1988 Texas high school football championship game. Several times in that movie, the head coach challenges his players to “be perfect.” The first time I watched the movie I thought that was an unrealistic burden to put on a team. At halftime of the championship game, he finally explains to his team what being perfect means:

Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is that you did everything you could. There wasn’t one more thing you could've done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentlemen, you're perfect.”

Wow. I can’t speak for the Stallions but I think it is possible that the Warhawks just completed a perfect season.

In the final analysis, it is silly to compare one year to the next when every year you have to replace the seniors that graduated. Thanks to the “program” at Madison, tradition doesn’t graduate but the young men that lead the program do and a new group of leaders must step up. That is no small task but this year’s seniors were up to the challenge. Now we have to say goodbye to these young men.

Once again, as I reflect on those who leave us after this season, I find it is a matter of perspective. My own perspective is heavily influenced by my son’s. His first two years in the program, it was natural for him to view the seniors almost with reverence. He was an underclassman and they were so much older and more experienced. To him, the seniors the last two years were his mentors.

This year’s seniors were not so much mentors to my son as they were something perhaps even more significant. They were brothers. One has been a neighbor almost his entire life and was a teammate in A and AA baseball. He played on a fourth grade VYI basketball team with another. A third was a teammate on a championship AAA team. Four were teammates on Colonial Division All Star teams. One was a teammate and roommate on a memorable trip to Cooperstown. Most important, all of them have been fellow Warhawks for two or three years.

Make no mistake about it, the Class of 2011---Austin Chute, Joe Corrigan, Ryan Corrigan, Eli Facenda, Gavin Gibbons, Jay Kenyon, Justin Nicholls, Ben Powers and Alex Tyroler---were leaders. They may not have been as vocal as the seniors the last couple of years but they knew how to lead by example. They were a blue collar bunch that brought their lunch buckets and hard hats to the ball field every day. This was a group that worked hard, was resilient and knew how to persevere through adversity. One caught bullpens for an entire year before becoming a starter his junior year. Another spent most of his high school career rehabbing from major surgery. Three others endured significant injuries that derailed part if not all of their junior season. For many the bell on significant playing time didn’t ring until their senior year but when it did they answered it in a big way.

Their leadership was instrumental in a season that saw us win a dozen times despite trailing at some point in the game. Six times we trailed when coming to bat in the fifth inning or later yet pulled out a “W.” The season also saw the seniors lead us into extra innings three times. All of those games were decided by one run in the eighth and after losing the first to Stone Bridge, we defeated the host team of the Hanahan Invitational Tournament and we beat McLean in the District semifinals. Then there was the one run victory over Langley in the District finals and the dramatic rallies to overtake Yorktown in the Region semifinals. This team reflected the resiliency of its seniors and as a result knew how to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Our seniors led us well and we will miss them.

I started out by saying that so much of life depends on your perspective. Of course, your perspective is influenced by your expectations and as we look to next year, we expect great things. Next year’s team will return more experienced, accomplished players than any team in the last five years. Certainly they have aptitude, achievement and talent. If anybody thinks that alone can guarantee a championship, check out who won the NBA Finals. Can next year’s leaders infuse the attitude, effort and character that this year’s seniors brought to the team? If so, perhaps next year we will advance at least one step further on the long hard road to glory. The first step on the 2012 journey begins the day after the 2011 Varsity Awards Night. Be perfect, boys