Last updated: July 07. 2014 4:06PM - 447 Views
Matt Bentley Guest Columnist

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The 2014 FIFA World Cup has been taking place in Brazil for the past month. As you read this, the semi-finals are being played between Germany and Brazil in one game and Argentina and the Netherlands in the next. Millions across the world have been glued to TV screens in hopes that their national team will be the ones raising the elusive golden World Cup trophy. Even millions of Americans across this great nation got excited about our National team and the ride that they took us on in the tournament for the first three weeks.

It is very disappointing that they did not get out of the round of 16, but it was extremely fun following the boys as they traveled throughout Brazil taking on 4 of the best teams in the world and having some success in doing so.

Recently I was named assistant Athletic Director by our school board. I am very excited about the challenge. I am a huge sports fan and a die hard Upson-Lee Knight. I am a former Knight athlete and have been coaching soccer, football, and basketball at Upson-Lee for the last 15 years. I feel that it is an honor to play, coach and now help build our school as assistant AD. While watching the United States soccer team this summer I can’t help but to get pumped up about our upcoming high school athletic season.

As I followed the United States team, I heard many different quotes and mottos over and over. I got excited every time I heard one and even found myself a time or two jumping up and down singing “I…I believe… I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win!” While this got me excited about watching the United States team, the more I think about it, it gets me even more excited about Upson-Lee athletics!

The first motto that I’m sure you have heard over and over was what I just quoted, “I believe that we will win.” It was pasted all over ESPN. There have been t-shirts made with the motto on it. Any time you get on Facebook, Twitter, or any social media this summer, you have seen it at least 3 or 4 times a day. YouTube videos have fans chanting it from the likes of Will Ferrell to MLB, NBA and NFL stars. It is a great motto! It is very American! It portrays our fighting spirit.

As a U.S. History teacher at the high school, I can tell you that throughout the history of this great nation, I can’t name a single time that we as American’s haven’t “believed that we can win!” While thinking about this motto the last few weeks, it keeps popping up in my mind that we should adopt it at Upson-Lee.

We have an outstanding coaching staff put in place this year. All of our coaches have been working very hard this summer both in the weight room and on their field of play. Our coaches and athletes have been putting in many hours this summer not only in our fall sports, which are right around the corner, but also our winter and spring sports for the 2014-2015 season. We have very passionate coaches and athletes, who I believe will represent our school well this year. I believe that we will have success on the fields and courts that we play on. I think that as coaches and players we should have the belief and confidence that no matter the opponent, no matter the circumstances, we are going to walk into our game or match and give everything we have. I think most importantly we need to walk out with the motto that “I believe that we will win!”

Another motto I heard over and over and also saw on social media was “Leave it all on the field.” Again, I believe this motto represents the American spirit. If you look at the 4 games the United States played in, you can definitely say they left it all on the field. The US team had to travel the furthest distance of any team in the World Cup for their group games. They had to play their second game in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. They had to play the best team from Africa, one of the best players in the world in Ronaldo, and possibly the next World Cup champion in Germany. They were picked by the ‘experts’ to finish dead last in the ‘Group of Death.’ They played a very good Belgium team in the round of 16. Even though the U.S. was over-matched with talent and still have not caught up with the rest of the world in soccer both technically or tactically, one thing you can say about this team is that they left it all on the field. They finished with a 1-1-1 record in group play and made it to the round of 16. They captured the heart of many Americans and the respect of the world from their hard-nosed play.

I believe at Upson-Lee we should take this motto for our athletic program as well. Along the same line, I have recently given my Knight soccer players wristbands that remind them that “every day counts.” I constantly preach to them the importance of leaving everything on the field and making every day count. Of course this means on the athletic field, but I stress to them that it also means making every day count in the classroom, at home, in the community, and so on.

I feel for us to be successful at Upson-Lee then we need to have this mindset as an athletic program. I am a very competitive person; I do not like to lose at anything. If there is a chance where I can beat someone at something, I can promise you that I am going to work the hardest that I can to make it happen. I believe that we have a coaching staff that is going to work extremely hard at making this happen in all of our sports this year. I also believe that we have teachers in our system that are going to work very hard to bring all of our test scores up and to make us one of the best high schools in the state. Our athletes are passionate about being Knights and are willing to do what it takes to help us become successful.

I am excited about the 2014-15 school year because I believe all of us at Upson-Lee are going to “make every day count” and “leave it all on the field”! Even if you do not like soccer or you just do not understand it, I hope you have followed the boys this summer in Brazil. They represented us. They played with a passion and a grit that portrays America. They are a team that was not scared of anyone, they gave everything they had and they left everything they had to try and succeed on the soccer fields of Brazil. They played with broken noses, they played through cramps from the humidity of the Amazon rain forest. They played with honor and they played with pride for this great nation.

As Assistant Athletic Director and as an Upson Lee coach, my hope is that our players, coaches and fans were watching and will grasp a hold to the things this US soccer team showed us. I hope that we can play the same way, preparing ourselves the best we can and then letting our hard work show during our games. I’m excited to see the Upson-Lee Knights “leave it all on the field” and once we do that “I Believe that we will win!”

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