Winning: Is it Really All About the Medal?


Checking out the social media pages over this past weekend, I was so impressed and happy to see how successful my friends children are at the sports they play.  Whether it be basketball tournaments, soccer, roller hockey or ice hockey, these kids are all superstars.

So many of them wore medals around their necks, made it to playoffs and showed off the coolest trophies that were bigger than some of the kids who had won them! We are raising amazing kids, and that’s not easy.

On our way home from my son’s hockey tournament in Massachusetts on the Sunday night after Thanksgiving, I spent a little time texting and posting congratulations to friends on their kids accomplishments. When I finally put the phone down, I looked back and saw Anthony staring out the window. He was not playing on his iPad or listening to his iPod, and unbelievably enough he had no interest in teasing his sister who sat just two feet away.

I felt it coming and knew what was happening. Just as I asked him what was going on in his brain at the moment, he looked over at me and said, “We lost.” He looked back out the window and just stared.

For a minute I wanted to remind him of all of the accomplishments he has achieved over the past year, like any mom would do at that moment. I wanted to tell him how great his dad and I think he is not just as an athlete, but as a person.  My heart lurched back and forth and I could see my husband peek over at me.  He gave me a few looks like-should I take this or do you want to dive in? 

And of course, anyone that knows me, knows I like to over analyze everything and I had plenty of hours to devote to it while we sat on a highway in stopped traffic.

Winning isn’t everything. It’s cliché, I know. But to a nine year old, it kind of is. So I took a step back and told him that winning is not just goals and a medal.


One of Anthony’s teammates, who is a bit smaller than the other kids, got knocked against the boards pretty badly and laid on the ice without moving. We all stood at the glass silently as we watched his teammates pick him up and skate him back to the bench. That, I explained to him, is winning.

Showing up to cheer on your team when you are sick as dog and told by the doctors that you absolutely cannot play is winning.

Standing up for a boy on your team that gets picked on is winning.

Playing an entire game with a tooth hanging out of your mouth because someone checked you in the head and not complaining for a single second is winning.

Being a team player is winning.

Running with a stitch in your side and crossing the finish line a minute later than you wanted to is still winning.

And accepting defeat is winning, even though it may sting a little.

Winning is continuous. It should never be frozen in time. It should be something that is practiced, nurtured and eventually learned. It should never be something you stop aiming for.

Winning, my son, is taking this conversation and making it your own. So the next time you don’t get the medal or the trophy, remind yourself that winning is a quest, not a destination. And the medals and trophies will come.

And you will celebrate again.

And, yes, mommy will post your big grin.

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Melissa Pizirusso is a full time working mom and Kindergarten teacher. Life in beTween is about her journey in raising healthy, happy children, students and athletes that are approaching their tween years. From travel sports to multiple tests per week, her family is the busy family you may relate to. Visit Melissa’s website at

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