Central Washington softball coach Gary Frederick watched two of his players - Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace - carry Sara Tucholsky around the bases some 15 months ago when Tucholsky hit the only home run of her life, missed first base in her excitement and turned around to go back to touch the base when her right knee didn't do what it is supposed to do and she immediately fell in a large amount of pain.
She crawled back to first base and, after a lot of discussion, Holtman, the all-time home run hitter in the conference, asked the umpire if she and Wallace, the shortstop, could carry Tucholsky around the bases.
So, the first baseman and shortstop picked up the 5-foot-1 No. 8 hitter and carried her around the bases.
It was a story that went around the world.
Frederick has been associated with the school for 45 years. The 72-year-old just finished his 15th season in the dugout.
He first stepped foot on the campus as a student-athlete in 1955. He returned to the school in 1967 after spending eight years coaching at three high schools in Washington.
Since his return, he spent 11 years as the baseball coach, 11 seasons as the women's basketball coach and 18 years as the athletic director.
At one point earlier in the decade, Frederick was the winningest coach in school history in all three sports.
Years ago while the baseball coach, winning a best-of-three series advanced your team in the playoffs.
His squad won the first game. A subsequent rainstorm muddied the field and, according to rule, his team would advance in the playoffs.
But, instead, he started calling around trying to find a playable field.
He found one and his squad promptly lost the next two games to see its season end.
His players were not happy with him. They were advancing in the playoffs and really couldn't believe their coach would rather lose in the mud than win by a rainstorm.
Frederick looked at his players and told them he was sorry they felt that way, but he was not backing into a championship.
So, which one are you.
Would you rather lose in the mud or win by a rainstorm?
Do you do just enough to get by?
Do you care that your teammates are working harder than you?
If they are working harder than you, what kind of a teammate are you?
Bill Curry was the center on the 1966 Green Bay Packers and 1970 Baltimore Colts teams that won Super Bowls. He was also a member of the Packers team that won the 1965 NFL Championship.
He has said many times that he never wanted to let his teammates down. He felt it was unacceptable not to work as hard as he could knowing the two guys to the left of him and the two guys to the right of him were busting their tails to open holes for running backs and protecting the quarterback.
Curry was the head football coach at Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky from 1980-1996.
After a 12-year hiatus he was named the first football coach at Georgia State, which will play its inaugural season in 2010.
It is rather obvious he would rather lose in the mud.
Ralph Drollinger entered UCLA as a freshman in 1972, the first year that the NCAA ruled that freshmen were allowed to play on varsity teams.
He was the backup to Bill Walton.
Drollinger, the first player in NCAA history to go to the Final Four tournament four years in a row, was now on a team that was the five-time defending NCAA champion. After grabbing a defensive rebound in practice he threw an outlet pass away.
Coach John Wooden blew his whistle and said, "Ralph, you are not to throw away the outlet pass."
About 30 minutes later Drollinger said he did it again and coach blew his whistle again and said, "Ralph, do you know why you are not to throw away the outlet pass?"
He answered the question to Wooden's satisfaction.
But, near the end of practice, Drollinger said he did it again. Drollinger said coach sat him down on the half-court paint, in front of his teammates and said, "Ralph, if you ever throw away one more outlet pass, you will be denied the privilege of practicing with your teammates."
Simple. To the point and Drollinger said he got the message.
The fact that he played for four years tells you what Drollinger did to fix the situation.
He played in the mud.
Doug McIntosh played basketball for Wooden from 1964-66 and was a member of the Bruins' first two NCAA championship squads.
He is now the senior pastor at Cornerstone Bible Church in Lilburn, Ga., and has been there since 1971.
"... He (Wooden) let us know every week that he would judge us not by whether we defeated the other team but by whether we played the way we were capable of playing. We received some of our sternest criticisms after a win, when it was apparent that we were coasting instead of playing the hustling and intelligent game we should have been.
"Coach, in fact, almost never talked about winning. He did talk a lot about playing up to our potential, and we discovered that doing that is considerably harder than winning.
"The importance of holding oneself accountable is a lesson I haven't forgotten. It is not only true in basketball, it is also true in life. Nobody has ever given me half as much grief as I give myself. I find that if I stop blaming other people for my troubles and start looking at my own performance, I always end up better off.
"Coach Wooden wasn't the first person to tell me that, but by the time he said it, I was mature enough to see that he was telling me the truth; and for that, I will be forever grateful."
That is from a book called "Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success: Building Blocks for a Better Life."
I highly recommend it.
It is rather obvious that McIntosh also chose the mud.
Since we are having so much governmental garbage stuffed down our throats, here is my two cents.
Although not my idea, I really like it.
Every person age 18, as long as physically capable, should spend one year in the military.
They can leave for boot camp one day after graduating from high school. If 17 at that time, they can leave one day after turning 18.
Those fed with a silver spoon and those who are sleeping on park benches will then be treated equally and will learn from one another.
Kids who have no problems saying 'no' and being amazing disrespectful to their elders will soon learn what it means to march a gazillion miles and peel a gazillion more potatoes.
Kids will learn that 5 a.m. is a time to get up and not get in.
Kids, every year, head to the military and we continually something like:
"They'll be better off for it."
"They'll never make it."
"I wonder how long they'll last?"
Kids will learn what losing in the mud really means and will come out much better for it.
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)