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Beating the Odds

The Championship Difference

Last Sunday, three teams at our school — the Montclair Kimberley Academy — won state prep championships.

I asked the three coaches to name the one factor they believe was the difference. Notice that in their response, all the qualities are mental. What was important was not so much the skill but the approach to competition.

Todd Smith, who heads the girls soccer team, cited perseverance.

“After we lost to the same team three times in a season, including a devastating last-second loss two days earlier, it would have been very easy for our team to have given up and accept the fact that they can’t win, that they can’t beat them,” Smith said. “However, they made the decision to fight and they looked at it as a tremendous opportunity to be able to play them again.”

Injoo Han, who coaches the girls field hockey squad, emphasized desire.

“I’ve never had a group of girls that were so focused throughout the season and they backed up their desire with hard work, led by the senior class,” Han said. “When the current coaching staff entered this program, the current seniors were freshmen.  Since that first year, we’ve drilled into them how talented they were and that with hard work and determination, the success will come. It looks like that determination from day one has finally paid off for them.”

Jordan Raper, head coach of the boys soccer team, discussed his team’s determination.

“I think that the team was so determined to win this year that they outfought a more skilled and experienced opponent,” Raper said. “We scored two goals in the first seven minutes and then just outworked them for the rest of the game.”

Congratulations to all three champions!


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