In 1988, my father Coach Bill Tierney, was in his first year of coaching at Princeton. They were absolutely terrible and ended up going 2 - 13. At some point during that season, he was given the poem "You Musn't Quit" and he has had it above his desk ever since. As bad as that season was, four years later his Princeton team would end up winning its first of six national championships while he was at the helm.
This poem illustrates one of the great lessons of athletics. No matter how bad things are going in a game or a season, we have to keep fighting and scrapping and clawing. At the end of the game or season, whether the outcome is "good" or "bad", we want to know that we gave everything we had for our team, our fans and for ourselves.
This lesson flows into our lives too, after we are done competing on the field. Sometimes we hit bumps in the road in life, and we just have to keep going and being our best. We have to have faith that everything happens for a reason and the tough parts in our lives are there to help us grow and evolve.
Here is the poem, as it portrays this feeling of what perseverance means better than I ever could :
YOU MUSN'T QUIT
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must but Don't You Quit!
Life is strange with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up through the pace seems slow
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup
And he learned too late when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem the worst
That You Mustn't Quit!
- Edgar A. Guest