#2 in the Nation, #1 in My Heart: How to Deal with Being a Loser

I hate losing. Playing a sport has made me even more competitive than I already am and this weekend my water polo team lost our championship game against University of Florida, a game we expected and wanted to win. Don’t get me wrong, getting second in the nation is still an accomplishment but we wanted to win so badly (it would have been the team’s third year in a row) and we knew that we could if things had just gone a little better.

The loss hurt more because not only did we want to win for ourselves, we wanted to win for each other. We felt our own sadness, but we also felt each other’s which made the tears flow even more. Losing is difficult and it is hard to get the “what ifs” out of your head.

After a little, we realized there was nothing we could do to erase what had happened, so we started making jokes, trying to make each other laugh out our sadness. I’m not going to remember the feeling of losing, I’m going to remember making hundreds of “UC Davis, #2 in the nation” jokes (#UCDiarrheaforever) and laughing at ourselves sadly and sarcastically. Humor is honestly the key to getting through sad times for the members of our team.

If I ever tell my kids about our trip to South Bend, Indiana for nationals I’ll probably curse University of Florida’s name a couple times, but then I know I’ll start to tell them about my teammates and how much fun we had together and how much we loved water polo (it’s a well known fact that every water polo player both equally hates and loves this sport). It’s not just about that final game and those last few minutes. It was about the journey we took together, the journey I was privileged to be on these past four years, and the way we dealt with our loss.

Becoming a loser is a humbling experience. Learning how to deal with coming in second these past couple days has forced me to try and not focus on what cannot be changed. Overall this loss, like most losses, does not matter in the grand scheme of things; what matters the most is how you react to it. If you chose to learn from your mistakes and still find a way to appreciate the experience, you are able to use your loss for good, to move forward.

At the end of the day, I would rather lose with a team I love than win with a team I hate. I am forever grateful for the past four years with UC Davis Women’s Club Water Polo and it bringing me my best friends, a sport I love to play, experiences I will never forget, and the title of second in the nation.

Photos courtesy of author.