Bouncing back after tough losses

Taylor Maddox

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For every high point in an athlete’s career, there is always a crushing low. Quite often, the memory of letting a game slip away can be just as significant as the home runs and buzzer-beaters of years past.

Regardless of the sport, disappointment after a tough loss can linger long after the final whistle is blown. Whether it’s losing a close one down the stretch or being blown out by a longtime rival, losing can be a substantial psychological hurdle to try and overcome.

When they’re done rewinding every mistake in their head a thousand times, what’s the next step an athlete can take?

For many Chico State competitors, the answer is using the sting of defeat as a motivator rather than a hindrance. Approaching every loss as a source of inspiration that challenges them to come back stronger, faster and more focused than ever before.

As a junior member of the women’s soccer team, Courtlynn Cerrito has had to cope with disappointing losses in the past, she said. Her team has competed in several close games in recent years, only to leave the field with lackluster results.

“Our most demoralizing loss was our game against Cal State Stanislaus in my freshman year,” Cerrito said. After suffering such a scary loss against them, it motivated us to keep pushing and to try and learn from our mistakes.”

While losing the game was distressing enough, other factors may have heightened the humiliation, she said.

“The game was aired live on television, which made it even more of an embarrassment,” Cerrito added. “We do think about that loss, but we mostly try and keep it in the past. When we step on Cal State Stanislaus’ field, it makes us push even harder. We try to put those memories behind us and create even better ones.”

Adam Black, a junior member of the men’s soccer team, said his team faces similar problems with the Cal State Stanislaus men’s squad.

“The most difficult defeat that we have suffered as a team was last season, when we lost to Cal State Stanislaus in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament,” Black said. “But this season we came back strong and beat them 3-1 at their home stadium. We were pumped up for the game and came through with a great result.”

Black was troubled by last season’s harrowing loss, but feels that coming back this year and getting revenge helped get the monkey off his team’s back, he said.

“That victory helped set the tone for this season,” Black said. “Our recent 2-1 win over previously undefeated Cal State Dominguez Hills was exactly what we needed to keep the ball rolling.”

Losing one game on the road can be harsh, but losing several to the same team on your home turf can be unbearable, said Drew Freeman, a senior member of the men’s baseball team.

Our series against Sonoma State last year was easily our most demoralizing loss,” Freeman said. “They came into our place and took all four games of the series, which really got to me.”

Freeman, with defeat still fresh in his mind, spent the summer preparing for his eventual shot at redemption.

“I have been working hard this off-season,” Freeman added. “I’m going to make sure that won’t happen when we travel to Sonoma State this year.”

Some Chico State athletes observe painful losses as a necessary component for developing team chemistry.

Gail Bassett, a senior on the women’s soccer team, said her team looks for encouragement in defeat and recognizes that their solidarity can only improve with
the experience.

“It motivates us to come back stronger,” Bassett said. “It reminds us that we are fighting for each other and that we have each other’s backs on the field.”


Taylor Maddox can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_sports on Twitter.

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