Even though the Springfield High fell short of their goal of attaining the 4 A state championship, this Yellow Jacket football team has taught themselves and the rest of us some valuable life lessons. Here are a few of the lessons that will never be forgotten.

Don't Let Losses Define And Limit You. You lost some talented teammates who were a big part of your offensive and defensive success over the past three years. You lost some scrimmages, the opening game, and a couple of other games, but you didn't accept the label that the talent level was down and it was a rebuilding year. You kept trusting the process, the coaches, and each other. With each success, you gained confidence and found new ways to win.

Keep Working Hard to Improve Every Day. Perfection is not attainable in this life, but progress toward perfection is. My high school coach Gene Windham preached, "Do something every day to make yourself and the team better. Each of you did.

The apostle Paul knew that growth follows salvation toward glorification: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-17).

Master the Basics and execute them with as few mistakes as possible. It all gets down to the fundamentals: blocking, tackling, and the kicking game. Springfield beat bigger opponents and more explosive offenses by making them begin a number of drives backed up against their own end zone. The Jackets managed to cause fumbles and make timely interceptions, while making fewer turnovers than their foes.

Respect but don't fear your opponents. Fear has torment (1 Jn. 4:18).  Respect motivates and enhances effort and preparation. A tough scrimmage with CPA and out of district competition with Wilson Central, Clarksville, and Beech tested the Jackets metal and helped them see where improvement was needed. If we apply faith, not fear to the competition a worthy opponent brings, it stretches us. It gets us out of our comfort zone where growth can take place.

Care for One Another Deeply and Everyone Do their Part. I heard Dallas Cowboy's Coach Jimmy Johnson once say after winning a Super Bowl, "A team, a locker room is a laboratory of life. When people care about each other on and off the field there is no limit to what they can accomplish." It was obvious these Yellow Jackets had each other's backs. They gave their all for one another and did not want to let each other down by giving anything less than their best.

 “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes–not that you won or lost–but how you played the Game.” In my hometown of Murfreesboro, there is a plaque with this quote. It stands near the place where America's first great Sport's writer Grantland Rice was born.  

All the Springfield coaches and players wanted to bring that gold ball home. They were in the championship game two years ago also. Both times, they gave it their best shot. Nobody was more disappointed than they were. Defeat hurts, but it cannot takeaway away the love, grit, character, and memories that you created this year. You know that you are a part of a greater game and pleasing the Great Scorer is the most important goal in life. 

We have watched with great enjoyment your growth as a team and as individuals. You gave us many thrilling plays, games, and victories. You brought honor and recognition to your families, your school, and your community. Thanks for all your hard work and sacrifice. May the Lord bless you and all of us as we take these lessons and put them into practice for a wonderful life.

Joe D. Rushing is one of the ministers of the Main Street Church of Christ. He is also a chaplain with Northcrest Health and Comfort Care Hospice.

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