MAR VISTA PARK – Lighthouse co-ed’s team resoundingly defeated Windward 5-0 to advance in middle school playoffs to round 2 on Monday.
They gelled when it counted most. Here was a team that during the league season would lose 8-0 and 7-0. The story of their turnaround is one of not growing frustrated, of learning from mistakes and of combining slow kids with fast kids, talented kids with not-so-talented kids into optimal formation.
Many middle schools have an A-team, a B-team and even a C-team. With less than 50 students, Lighthouse Church School in Santa Monica has only one team, combined with all sorts of players. To say all candidates make the cut is an understatement. Sometimes, the school begs kids to play.
With teams like that, the wrong thing to do is to let that one star do everything. Just give him the ball and get out of his way. Instead, the Saints focused on building a team around the stars.
A critical moment came when the Saints showed poor sportsmanship. In a pre-league scrimmage against Westside Neighborhood School, the Saints behaved very… um,unsaintly. After losing 4-1, some of the kids spat into their hands at the end-of-the-game high five, smearing it on their unwitting opponents’ hands.
Ugh! How despicable can you get?
While the opposing kids may not have realized they were the victims of an ugly prank, the opposing parents had seen it all.
Understandably incensed, the WNS coach spoke to Lighthouse coach. He couldn’t believe his ears (he had been herding stragglers to form part of the line when the offenders committed their crime).
LCS coach scrambled a quick investigation, which more or less confirmed the worse. A photographer produced incriminating photos. Kids broke down under interrogation and confessed.
It is sad to see top clubs and national teams defend their players – no matter how repugnant their behavior. Whether it is racial epithets uttered on the field or biting incidents, it’s shameful to see teams try to confuse the facts just so their players won’t be suspended.
LCS, a Christian ministry of the Lighthouse Church, decidedly reacted against self-defense. The athletics director and the coach immediately sent profuse apologies to the league organizers and offended school. They requested to NOT be excused; they asked for a sanction from the league.
Ultimately, league officials opted against punishment, acting on WNS’s gracious forgiveness. But Lighthouse benched for one game each of the offenders anyway. It was a matter of character – what Lighthouse most is trying to teach.
More important than winning league games was winning the souls of men. Since at least three players fessed up, three players sat out – and the team suffered on the field.