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Local athletes face hard loss

Earlier this month, Maui high school athletes took to the street to wave signs in protest of the Maui Interscholastic League’s decision to cancel its fall and winter seasons.

The students had been holding out hope their sports could be played after COVID-19 wiped out most of the prep calendar in 2020. Unfortunately, with coronavirus cases on Maui spiking and the pandemic surging worldwide, officials had little choice but to pull the plug on those hopes.

While it is disappointing for the athletes, the fact that they are competitors means they have the tools to rise above this setback. Sport provides many life lessons and one of the most important is how to overcome adversity. No matter how gut-wrenching the loss, athletes know the sun does come up the next day.

For every shot or lap a student-athlete takes during crunch time, there have been 10,000 in the gym or on the course preparing for just that moment. Sometimes the game-winning attempt goes in and sometimes it doesn’t. Athletes learn to roll with it, to never be afraid to try even though it might lead to failure. With more hard work, sweat and sacrifice, they’ll have a better chance to make it next time.

During practices and clinics, kids have the opportunity to be influenced by adults other than their parents and teachers. The best coaches serve as role models, mentors and advocates. For student-athletes who may not have the best home life or who are having trouble in school, coaches are often lifelines who keep them moving forward. Sometimes all it takes in a young person’s life is the knowledge that someone cares, that someone has expectations and holds them accountable.

Being part of a team means learning how to rely on others and how to make sure you can be relied upon. The values of teamwork and being a team player are cornerstones of our society. Not everybody can be the star. Athletes must do an honest assessment of their strengths, weaknesses and physical capabilities to figure out where they fit within the team. What role can they fill to help?

And then there is the knowledge competition provides. Winning may be the goal, but losing is where the sustaining lessons are learned. Someday those kids may have to face the loss of a loved one, lose their job or go through a divorce. Athletics provide a safe venue to learn how to deal with such disappointments.

Loss does not define a person. It is what you do afterward that counts.

Along with all the other people negatively impacted by COVID-19 on this island, the pandemic has dealt our student-athletes a lousy hand. Our hearts go out to them for what they have missed and for what they may never get back. Despite the hardship, we are confident they have what it takes to persevere.

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