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As a “die-hard” Golden State Warriors fan, over the years, I have learned what it means to be a “real” fan when we were continually “dying hard.” After decades of supporting a team that had not seen success since the year of my birth (1975), the fans who made it to the 2015 era were few and far between. Our dedication to our team had more than local Bay Area roots, especially since many of us could not afford to attend a game for decades. Starting in 2014, we were finally able to celebrate, watching them dominate after all those years of struggling, only to watch them fall again due to injuries. This season, I watched my team prove so many naysayers wrong and seemingly beat the odds stacked against them (age, injury setbacks, the end of an era) to win the NBA Championship again. I could not help but equate this latest victory to many of our journeys in education. In the words of Stephen Curry, “Success is born out of faith, an undying passion, and a relentless drive.” I thought about what teachers could learn from the Golden State Warriors.
In Hebrews 11:1, the New International Version of the Bible states, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Teachers must continue to rely on faith, regardless of religion, personal beliefs, or plain old hope for the future. Like the Golden State Warriors, when people underestimate our impact, fail to see our worth, or take us for granted, we rise like the metaphorical phoenix from the ashes and live to fight another day. We have faith that we are making a difference. We have faith that no matter the obstacles we face, we will continue to make a way out of seemingly no way. And we have faith that we will emerge, once again, as the “Champions” that America so often seems to forget that we are!
How often have we heard someone say that “teaching isn’t my job; it’s my passion!” Both teachers and the Golden State Warriors demonstrated commitment that went above and beyond merely showing up. We tapped into a more profound passion to persevere over many obstacles set against us. The pandemic was our version of Klay Thompson’s two-year battle with injuries (torn ACL and ruptured Achilles tendon). Just when we thought we were done with one strain of the Coronavirus, another came to delay what we thought would be our return to “normal.” A combination of faith and an undying passion for teaching has kept many of us in this “game” of education. We look to our students, we look to our calling, and we look to the future. Our Championship ring comes in the form of the lasting impact we have on the lives we touch both in and out of the classroom walls.
Unlike Steph and the Warriors this year, many of us felt that our drive was far from relentless. We often began to question whether or not we had the stamina to continue. Teaching seemed to become a ‘rat race’ of persecution, politics, and propaganda. But we tapped into our original purpose for getting into education in the first place. I listened to many members of the Golden States Warriors talk about their ultimate goal from the beginning of every season: to win the NBA championship. Like teachers, these brave souls demonstrated a fortitude that extended beyond the adversities faced throughout their tumultuous year. They braved all of the negative talk from the haters that plagued them to the very end of this championship journey. When speaking about success, Steph always has continual optimism. Steph Curry once said, “Every time I rise up, I have confidence that I’m going to make it.” Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors were the epitome of “rising to the occasion.” This year, teachers did the same! We made it through another year that many of us could not imagine the end of. But in the end, in the same way the Golden State Warriors pulled off their unbelievable Championship run, we prevailed too!
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