Bottom of the Ninth

Posted: July 9, 2011 in Encouragement, Heart, Team

Last Wednesday, Claudia and I had the opportunity to take her dad to see the Cubs for his 87th birthday. Our two sons and their ladies joined us for the evening adventure to the “friendly confines”. It was an amazing outcome, leaving me pondering, “how could this relate to teams of great volunteers”? I know that sounds a little strange-but this is how my mind works now days.

This was the game status when this team analogy thing hit me: the Goliath team just tied the game on their end of the ninth. It’s now a one-to-one game in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a man on third for the home team. Pinch hitter up for the Cubs with two strikes on him (OK-it was Aramis Ramirez pinch-hitting, but go with me).

Put that suspense on hold while I give you the history of my visits. Our family visits have yet to see the Cubs lose in Wrigley. Yeah, it’s the Cubs, so we’ve come close but we’ve always “sung the song”.

Hang on tight while I take this next turn.

There’s another team I admire, that “plays” with passion in “bottom-of-the-ninth” situations. This team always comes through in the clutch whether I’m there or not; for 10 years, I’ve never seen them loose. They’ve covered each other’s back and have always come through to raise the W flag at the end of a weekend.

I’m talking about the GCC I-Mag team and though the analogy might be a stretch, it gets the point across: these players aren’t just determined to be in full force on “game day,” they’re also committed to each other. They’re winners. They strive to make the weekend experience great and, in the process, to make each other feel great about being a part of a team. This team’s strength started months before the service, before the temperature hit 90 on a rare three-day holiday.

We’ve never had anything less than a full, team presence on game day for a full decade. The I-Mag team unexpectedly went to the “bottom of the ninth with two outs” last weekend, but team players stepped up to the plate – thanks Doc, Laura and Chuck for your willingness – to keep the perfect record intact. Like so many Cubs baseball games, we’ve come close a few times but we’ve always “sung the song.”

Speaking of the Cubs, Aramis came through, we sang the song and the undefeated record is still intact. It’s hard to imagine 39,000 fans cheering and singing for a club that’s 12 games below 500. That’s a post for a sports writer…or psychologist.

Now, here’s where I hope this post comes together. When you’re able to come through in a pinch like our team did, it can probably be credited to months or years before, when the intangibles were being built into the individual team members and when those members internalized the meaning of “team.” It’s the training, the encouragement, “coming to bat” for team members when needed and never giving up, even in the bottom of the ninth. It’s knowing the vision and executing it for your guests because you know the stakes.

I salute the greatest I-Mag team on the planet for their commitment and excellence. I salute the individual volunteers (all 37 of you) on this team who have been and are willing and able to pinch hit and come through in the clutch when unforeseen circumstances strike in the 9th.

You’re my heroes.

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