The Next Day

Dealing with pressure, defeat and victory


Photo by: Teresa Homsi

Senior Andrew Aguilar cheers at the Ridge game.

Losing is inevitable, but it is never intentional. Winning is challenging, but it is never impossible. In an environment with such intense school spirit, game days can put pressure on athletes to succeed; and with such a football-centered culture, this high pressure is especially great on the Varsity Football team. Unfortunately, victory is not always a guarantee, and defeats are disappointing to both the players and the student body.

“One of the things we talk about is adversity in life and in football, [and] losing a game puts you in an adverse situation,” Varsity Football coach Trenton Faith said. “Obviously, the loss is not a fun thing. It’s very painful, but it teaches us to bounce back, move forward and be successful.”

Numerous organizations such as band, cadettes, cheer, color guard, trainers and WildThings are directly involved in football games. With the addition of the student body, this large audience is naturally hopeful of a victory.

“That’s the expectation of life. There’s always a pressure to succeed in whatever aspect you’re in, whether it be school, sports or performing arts. If you’re in anything that has wins/losses, there are expectations to be better,” senior outside linebacker and A-back Khari Keaton said.

Pressure is everywhere, different for everyone and handled differently by everyone.

“For me, a lot of pressure is from myself. I want to see this team do well. I want to see myself do better for the team. I want to see my brothers do better,” senior starting right guard Tim Dendy said. “I just want to see us come together as a team and succeed, but there’s also a lot of pressure from students. Everybody wants us to win, but some guys have the added pressure from their home.”

After a loss, the team may face criticism from the student body.

“Losing a football game is already tough to do, but losing a football game and being shamed by your entire school all day is pretty distracting to your school environment. That’s just something you have to deal with, and I’m not complaining about it. I think it’s just more encouragement to win,” Dendy said.

Although a loss can be disheartening, it can also be an opportunity to become better.

“I’ve heard people criticise the team. [I don’t usually say anything back] because it’s a reflection of how we played. If we have a losing record, that means we’re not doing things right,” Keaton said. “[After losing, our team] is definitely more somber, [and we’re] not as joyful. Everyone thinks we have to get back to the drawing board and start back at square one.”

After a game, the team reviews the film from their game and work on what they need to improve.

“We don’t usually talk about winning and losing. We talk about the process of doing things right [and] being a good teammate. All those processes equate to wins hopefully, and if you do those things, the end mode should be success,” Faith said. “Whether we’re winning or losing, there’s going to be criticism. There’s probably more when we’re having a rough season, but all I can do is what I think is best for this football team and for the players and coaching staff.”

Sometimes, losses can drive players apart and raise tensions in the team. However, that does not seem to be the case this year.

“I’ve been on varsity for three years, and in the past years, we’ve had rough seasons. After every loss, the team becomes less and less cohesive. Every consecutive loss just drives us further apart, and people start to point fingers when it’s really just a team problem. But, this year has really been different,” Dendy said. “After this first loss, there was none of that. In fact, we just got closer together because we’re finally seeing each other playing, and all this talk about effort and 212, it’s all real.”

Although winning is easier to deal with, losing focus can become a problem after a victory.

“A victory is probably harder because, when we lose a game, the guys are wanting to get back on the field to redeem themselves. After a win, sometimes, it’s harder to get over, and we make sure to grind them really hard the next week at practice to get back into focus,” Faith said.

Regardless of whether or not a game ends in a victory streak or a rough defeat, the spirit and attitude during and after a game is what matters most.

“The louder the student section is, the more the defense wants to get up and play,” Dendy said. “The student body makes a difference. Sometimes, it’s positive, and sometimes, it’s negative. I just want the student section to know that being good spectators–and wild spectators–is very important to the game.”

So keep on cheering Wildcats.

Defensive Lineman Jozef Taylor celebrates after winning the game against Cy Ridge.
Photo by: Teresa Homsi
The players run out at the start of the Ridge game.