Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Open Letter from Coach Smith

More than just a team.
Dear Catdome Family

On behalf of our entire staff and program, I want to wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas!

I want to thank all of you for your constant support of our program, but I want to give a special thank you to the extra outpouring of love and support this past month and a half.   Our players needed it, our coaches needed it, and our school needed it.   I truly thank you all.

I have received so many letters, texts, emails, cards, flowers, and signs.   We have tried to thank many, but I have been unable to thank all of you personally.  Please know that each of you have made a difference for our team this year.

You almost never know what you have until it is gone, and rarely appreciate it fully until you don’t have it anymore and you miss it.  

Obviously that holds true for us in this case.   However the opposite is true for us as well.   You may not know what you have until it is fully revealed.    I have always known the loyalty Linfield has for each other, but I have never seen it expressed or revealed to the degree it was showered on us these past months.   I will be forever grateful.

This was an unbelievable roller coaster of a season.   Our guys had one goal in their sight for the past 12 months.   They trained at a higher level than ever before.  They committed to rest and nutrition and health at a higher level than ever before.  We even committed to cool downs after practice all year long!   And this team took off.   We became a very dangerous football team.

I can’t explain concisely the disgrace and debacle of the seventh game of the season.   We prepared very hard that week, but we were not mentally ready to play a close, tight game.   It should have been a rout.  But it wasn’t, and the ensuing frustration at poor play hamstrung us for most of the game.  We finally found our backs to the wall and started competing at all costs.   Unfortunately we had dug a hole that required us to play perfect football down the stretch, and we were unable to do that.   That game hurt us like few losses ever have.  It is the first loss we have had in so many years in which it did not end our season.   To us conditioned to one loss ending our season, it felt just like that.   For our football team it was “Low-ville” not “Wildcatville” around Maxwell that week.  I was unsure how we would respond vs UPS, as I thought we would either play sloppy or excel.  Obviously our team responded with tremendous character.  

The next week was one we were looking forward to for an entire year.   The amount of trash and bravado that was thrown our way from 30 minutes north we took notice of.   Our guys did a great job of letting others talk while we worked.  I was so proud of how we played that Saturday.   It washed away the taste of a disgraceful letdown, and put us in the playoffs.   

All of our goals were still in front of us, though we knew we would now be doing some additional traveling.

Then evil hit us.

Will Kiem came on Monday and I am so grateful for the messages he gave our team.   I believe he was a servant of God that day administering to us in our grief and anger.   I have no doubt he made a difference for many of us.  Our team dinner that week set up by Ryan Carlson and friends here in town, was also an important time for us to share about Parker and what he means to all of us.

The memorial service and the memorial wall were important for us as well.   The memorial wall has been taken down for now to preserve all the notes and cards for the Moore Family, but we will build something permanent there in the future.

Our playoff run was incredible, as I watched this team come together as no other team I have been a part of.  We were so good together.    First Chapman.  Then going down to Texas with nothing to lose and getting after the Lone Star State.   That was a game that is one of our program’s greatest wins.  The trip to Philly was special for what we were able to experience together.  The Rocky steps and Independence Hall were wonderful to share with our team, as were the Philly Cheesesteaks from Sonny’s.    Coach Chip Kelly’s allowing us to practice at his facility was special.   Then we headed to Wisconsin to take down the King.

As we watched Whitewater beat Mt. Union, it was hard for all of us to swallow just how close it really was to there being a team in all white standing alone on top.

The point I wrote to our team last week was this.   I believe this 2014 Linfield Team is alone on top.   From our own experience, I know that the rings and trophies the world gives you truly fade away into meaninglessness.   As Coach Mathews often recounts at Chapel services, King Solomon got it.   Wealth and accomplishment is ultimately meaningless.   What truly counts is how you live your life, and the people you live it with.   Our guys discovered that this year.   I asked them after the game “would you really want to switch places with them?”   I know I wouldn’t.

I have never been more proud of Linfield than I was after our loss.   These young men made our staff’s hearts full.

Thank you all for helping bring that about.   Merry Christmas!

Coach Smith


DS said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all the Smiths.

criswyly said...

Awesome letter....