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The Power of Being No. 2

I recently ran into another mother I used to share a lawn chair with many times at sports tournaments while our children were growing up. We drove those kids cross country, up and down the state, as they racked up the trophies. While my son played often and quite well, her son sat on the bench. He was a back up player.

I remember hearing about a national tournament where the team was sent from California to the east coast. Out of the entire weekend of play and something like six or seven games, her son played a total of five minutes, and only when the first string player needed a water break.
Her son listened as the first string player talked about not liking to play, whined about getting up on time. He was also the coach’s son. Her son was usually the first on and one of the last off the field, often carrying equipment, chairs or water for parents and other team members.
I asked her what had become of her son, and if she knew what had become of the other boy. And she told me. Her son joined the Marines and became involved in special forces. He had tasted combat, and the bitterness of losing good friends in a field not many choose. He loves what he is doing.
The other boy? Got recruited and played for a D1 college, but flunked out. Tried to play professionally but washed out. Coaches when he feels like it. Works as a barista sometimes. And hates his life.
I wonder who got the better training? We all want to be No. 1. Nobody ever strives for No. 2 status. But there’s power in it.

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