Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wide Right, No Goal

If you don’t know what I am talking about Google “Wide Right, No Goal and Buffalo.” You will run across links and blogs like this: Buffalo Bills- http://www.ubbullrun.com/2014/8/11/5811720/worse-buffalo-moment-1-wide-right and Sabres- http://adm1370m-buffalo-sabres.wikispaces.com/No+Goal!.

Or- you can go to lululemon Walden Galleria and see the words etched on the floor at the entrance (or not- see images at the end of this blog).

It is our shared history. For the Buffalo Bills it was "Wide Right" and for the Sabres it was "No Goal." Some say the Bills Game was one of the worse moments in the history of Buffalo sports. I am not so sure about that. These games were most certainty among the the hardest to watch. Most of us remember where we were, whom we were with, and the brand of beer we were drinking.

The Bills game went down like this. The Buffalo Bills had one of the best seasons in the history of the team. They were strong, solid, and made us PROUD. It was the BIG GAME. There were eight seconds left in the Super Bowl. Buffalo had possession of the ball and was trailing 20 – 19. The team lined up for a 47-yard field goal. Norwood set up for a field goal attempt. This was a 47-yarder and would be Norwood's longest ever on grass. We all held our collective breath.

Wide Right. No Goal. 

That was it.

We stared at the TV. Silence- for a long time.

Then, the cautious glances to others in the room. Man, we love this team. We wanted this for them, for us, for Buffalo.

Yeah, for Buffalo.

People have asked me why the lululemon store at the Walden Galleria put “Wide Right. No Goal” at the entrance of the store. They did it for good reason. They did it for the Buffalo Bills (Wide Right) and the Sabres (No Goal). The answer I give is the same when I work with kids and adults on empowerment.

It is our efforts, our trials and tribulations, and our ability to dig deep, try again, and persevere that make us who we are. Success, sure that is great. But character, honest-to-goodness, gritty, get up and pull yourself up by your bootstraps character- man- that comes from days like “Wide Right. No Goal.”

I am the mom of the teenage athletes. I am the wife of a former Rugby playing, half Ironman completing, dedicated father. I have been a college athlete and fancy myself an adult athlete. We love to win and achieve personal bests. But that is not why we are in it. That is not why we play. We do it because we love the game, the running, the yoga, the whole-hearted living of it. We love facing the edge of no-you-can’t and not-today and persevering.  It teaches you about life.

Like this. I am also a researcher and I submit my work, like all researchers, for peer-review. I collect all of my “Wide Right. No Goal” letters telling me they can’t or won’t be publishing my work. That is my fire. It is what I stand on to learn. I know my work is good- just like that team, our team- the Buffalo Bills- the Sabres- were and are amazing.

In the face of hardship, I know exactly what to do. I look at the feedback, take a deep breath, grab my bootstraps, and re-submit. I learned how to do that as a swimmer in college, running marathons and half marathons, and breathing through a yoga pose. Persevere Catherine. You’ve got this.

If you have tried at anything in your life- you have had your “Wide Right. No Goal” days. I tell my daughters and myself, “It is not the good days that define you. It how you handle the hard days- that is how you know who you are and that is how you show others who you are.”

Buffalo- we have handled our “Wide Right, No Goal” with grace and glory. Our teams were and are great. We were and are great. And Buffalo was and IS great.

I grew up all over the United States of America the daughter of a Naval officer. In 1992, I moved to Buffalo to attend graduate school. I was 27 years old with a heart full of dreams, a mechanical pencil, running shoes, and not much else. I have seen this city grow and prosper in terms of business, academics, art, culture, sports, athletics, and community. I am so proud to live here, to be an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, to be a homeowner, and to have raised my two beautiful daughters in this believe-anything-is-possible town.

So go to lululemon and stand on the “Wide Right. No Goal” entrance, dig deep in all the shared history, learning, and pride.

Now, like then, we grasp hands, set our eyes on the next game, and walk toward our future- proud of how hard we worked and how far we have come.

That is why it is there.

UPDATE -- 10/16/2014 (2 days after my first post)

There has been a rising debate about the message on the mosaic tyles. News outlets have covered the debate and there have been strong feelings expressed regarding the the message on the mosaic. 

I have learned from my yoga practice and my studies that right and wrong are complicated concepts and what makes sense to one person in a given context can make no sense at all to another person in his or her context. I have also learned that trying to be right and getting defensive can get in the way of connection and understanding. 

For some people "Wide Right" and "No Goal" are rallying cries bringing us together, in solidarity, to fire us up the for the next game. I have come to understand that for others these words feel like rubbing two of the the hardest times in our sports history into our collective faces. I have listened to my friends and read the comments and concerns. I understand why people are unhappy with the mosaic. 

It makes sense to remove the mosaic. No matter the reason it was put there in the first place, it doesn't make sense now-- and I know for a lot of people it never made sense. 

I have no doubt we will get through this. In Buffalo, so many times the hard stuff has brought us together. I think about the October Storm in 2006, it was around this time of year (October 12th and 13th). We were a city of neighbors with shovels and snow plows. My husband went up and down the street with our snow blower and a shovel. My daughters and I bundled up and went out to help. As a family, we worked with our neighbors and moved trees and tree limbs to clear the streets. It is one of my best memories. 

This is the Buffalo that I know. This is the Buffalo that I love. 

When the next snow storm comes- we will all be out there-- together-- with hot chocolate, snow blowers, and shovels. Once all is clear, we will be finding the fastest route to the powdery hills of an Ellicotville ski resort, or four wheel to Chestnut Ridge to slide down the gigantic hill, or build fabulous snowmen in our front yards, or cross country ski to one of our wonderful restaurants or bars.

When the sun shines down for another of our glorious summers we will meet at Shakespeare in the Park, go to an art or food or music festival, or do yoga by the waterfront, run the hills of Chestnut Ridge together, or hike Letchworth Park, or  journey to the eternal flame and make a wish, or read a book under a hundred-year-old tree at Delaware Park, or take our boats to the harbor, or paddle board in the calm waters on Grand Island. 

Of course, we will be there- together- cheering for our teams- hoping for and dreaming about our next championship and victory. 

I wish we could fit all of that on a mosaic- it would be beautiful. 

Catherine Cook-Cottone
The Yoga Bag

See Buffalo News for more on the story: Click for Buffalo News Story

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