Cardinals lose 'the right way,' realize that life still goes on
October 17, 2005 —
As a Vanguard staff member, I had the opportunity to be on the sidelines Saturday night for what was probably the biggest Division II regular season college football game of the year. And even though I was there working, I'll admit I was excited; I am a huge college football fan and being so close to the action was an experience I haven't had often.
But perhaps I'll backtrack just a bit. When I say I like college football, I am referring to the likes of the Wolverines and their Division I co-horts. I say this despite the fact that I have never stepped foot on the University of Michigan campus.
Meanwhile, my footprints are all over SVSU and have been so for the last six years. Yet, the first Cardinals football game I ever attended was two weeks ago against Mercyhurst to cover Homecoming. Sure, my experience at the game was alright, but I still felt like Division I was the place to be. After all, I like my stats updated online by the minute, instant replays from six different angles and the ability to TiVo the game if I have to go to the bathroom.
But as I watched Saturday's game unfold, I gained an admiration for our players that I don't have for those tiny people I see running around on TV. In particular, defensive end Dan Fodrocy impressed me with a speech that seemed like it was straight out of Rudy. I was standing near the bench as the defense came off the field, and Fodrocy called some of his teammates over. Instead of lambasting them for giving up almost more points in one game than they have the entire season, he started congratulating them on some of the great plays they had made in the game. Then, he looked at all of them and shouted, "Life goes on." He kept saying it as he stormed around, smacking his teammates and trying to pump them up. But even as he said it, I wondered if he was crazy. I mean, c'mon, this is Grand Valley. Life couldn't possibly go on after a loss to Grand Valley.
Fodrocy didn't stop there. He pointed a finger at his teammates and told them not to get down on themselves - that nobody had played well. Nobody? Fodrocy tied for the team lead with 13 tackles, 3.5 of which were for loss. The man was all over the field. And yet he said "Nobody" had done their job, including him, his teammates, and probably even Vanguard reporters on the sidelines.
Then, after all that, he stood there and told his teammates that they needed to go out there one more time and play their hearts out. It wasn't a plea - as if he was saying they hadn't done so before - but more of an acknowledgement. Almost as if they saw it as an opportunity to make up for failing their own expectations.
By the end of his speech, I felt like the team was primed for a Hollywood comeback victory. Hell, I was so inspired I did three pushups that night. But unlike the films we've all seen, the good guys didn't get the victory this time. In fact, I think we gave up two more touchdowns after that. Yet, there was something victorious in it all that I couldn't put my finger on. Only later did I realize it was all about pride and the old adage about never giving up.
As I sit here writing this, I think back to the players running off the field after giving up a touchdown and the players running off the field after fumbling. At no point did anything other than the scoreboard indicate that the Cardinals were being destroyed. And that says something about this team. I think I'm a fan now.
So before anyone gets too upset that we lost to Grand Valley, remember that we lost the right way. I didn't see anyone take a play off or hang their head. They were upset, yes, but as Dan Fodrocy says, "Life goes on." Every player, coach and fan hustled in one way or another at the game Saturday night. I guess it just reminds us all that the best piece of advice for anyone when they're down and out is to just keep running.