Let's learn from Decatur's mistakes

"There's no reason the Decatur Gators should be sitting at home this weekend instead of playing in the boys soccer high school state championships.Well, there's just one reason and that is because they couldn't control their emotions.That's why they're not in Vancouver fighting for the state title. (I'd better rephrase that.) That's why they're not in Vancouver competing for the state title.There have been some talented teams come out of the Federal Way School district. The record-setting championship squads from Thomas Jefferson in the mid-80s come to mind.In the recent past, the Gators made their way to the state tournament final four or five years ago and Thomas Jefferson placed third last spring.This season's Decatur squad might have been the most talented in the past decade.Toward the end of the season, it was difficult to talk with Gator players without them mentioning their goal of becoming the first Decatur team to finish a season undefeated.Not reaching that goal isn't as disappointing as the way Decatur's season ended.Losing is inevitable for every team in the state other than the state champion. Great teams lose every year in their quest to win the championship.The disappointing part is what transpired the final 80 minutes of the Gators' season.Facing their first bit of adversity of the season, the Gators crumbled. Not all of them mind you, but a great majority.Before it was over, 11 yellow cards and three red cards were issued to Decatur players. Most of them were given for dissent toward the referee or obviously blatant fouls.The Gators might put much of the blame on the referee, but they'd be kidding themselves. The referee and his linesmen aren't to blame for what transpired. They were all but forced to issue those yellow and red cards. There were even a couple of incidents that could and should have been dealt with more harshly.Now, I'm not trying to tear down the Gators. They had a tremendous season up until those final 80 minutes against Port Angeles.One of the saddest results of last week was that it meant the end of Ryan Haney's high school career. Haney is one of the most talented and classy players the city has produced in many years.Even with the loss of Haney and several other seniors, Decatur is going to be one of the favorites to win the South Puget Sound League title again next season. Sophomore Alex Chursky has the potential to follow in Haney's footsteps and lead the Gators back into the postseason.If that does happen, however, Decatur is going to have to learn from this year's mistakes. They have to realize that no matter how good you are, you must also possess poise and control.The Gators regained their poise for about 10 minutes to begin the second half against Port Angeles. They played brilliantly at times. The Roughrider coach even commented on the Gators' superior skill.With the loss of their emotions the game fell out of their reach.The Decatur underclassmen and young players throughout the city should take note of this game. It should leave a bad taste in their mouths. Not because they lost, but the way they lost. The young Gators should vow never to lose or win like that again.Losing shouldn't be frowned on. Great efforts are often praised despite disappointing outcomes. Win or lose everyone should learn from Decatur's play last week. They should learn that win or lose, if you play with class you always come away ahead.Bob Coleman's column runs each Saturday in the Mirror."

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