Nick’s Notes: The Smile Inside

MARSHALL-Last week while waiting for the Marshall High School football team to get organized for their team picture, I noticed the coaches organizing themselves for their photo. They discussed whether to smile or not. One coach said he couldn’t stop smiling and he got ribbed for it. I know that stoicism and toughness are part of the game. That’s fine. However, don’t forget the joy is part of it as well.

It’s good to see that many Marshall teams have a full reservoir of joy at the beginning of this fall season. The SMSU Volleyball and Soccer team Twitter accounts seem to be locked in a battle for the most positive tweets. The volleyball team posted pictures of a trip to the lake, trivia questions, and a few #Pabloisms. The Soccer team responded with possibly my favorite hashtag of all-time, #hoofhearted.

Teams weren’t afraid to display some positivity offline either. SMSU libero Greta Geist had a huge smile on her face, even though it was her first practice as a Mustang. Assistant Coach Paul Soupir chuckled a bit when he was asked about the team’s slogan, “A hungry dog hunts best.” (It’s my hunch that he is the #Pabloism muse.)

It’s easy to smile when you win, but it is hard to find positive things when you lose. It can be done, though. At the Little League World Series, coach Dave Belisle of the Cumberland Americas, gave an epic postgame speech after his team lost 8-7. “The only reason why I’ll probably end up shedding a tear is that this is the last time I’m going to coach you guys,” he said. He goes on to highlight the team’s effort and journey with smiles and tears all around. Search for the video online, it’s worth the watch.

We tend to equate showing emotion, especially positive emotion, on the field or in the gym as a sign of weakness or pompous braggadocio. I disagree. If you keep your pride and your self-respect, smile all you want.

I know that many of you student-athletes don’t like to show emotion when you’re on the field, and that’s fine. However, don’t believe for a second that there is some unwritten rule that you need to bottle your passion when it comes from a place of joy. In a few years, many of you will move on from your athletic careers to real-world jobs. I’ll be the first to tell you that filing TPS reports will bring you substantially less joy than your current athletic endeavors do. Savor them.

So as the season starts, work hard, listen to your coaches, take your responsibilities seriously, and don’t forget to smile every once in a while.