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  September 3, 2010
Rudy in Real Life

It’s September.  Soon the leaves will turn bright red, orange and yellow and fall to the ground.  The baseball pennant race is in full swing in cities like New York, Tampa, Dallas, Cincinnati, St. Louis and yes San Diego.  The "Friday night lights" and bright harvest moons will fill the darkness in small towns across America as the nights grow longer...
On Tuesday most of the local kids head back to school for another year of learning.
The other day I was having a conversation with one of my very good friends.  She related a seemingly sad story whereas a girl from a family we both know was recently cut from her school’s field hockey team.  The young woman (I prefer not to use her name) was told by the coach that there was unfortunately only 16 uniforms yet there were 19 returning girls vying for those 16 coveted jerseys and skirts.
This bit of news completely floored me.  I’ve know this young lady for many years.  She comes from a good home with an involved and loving family.  She is in the top of her class scholastically sporting a GPA well over 4.0 due to the abundance of AP and honors classes she’s taken.  She’s earned her silver award as a long-time member of the Girl Scouts and is currently on track to complete her gold award before her 18th birthday (which is the Girl Scouts equivalent of the Eagle Scout awarded by the BSA).  In addition to all the above, she volunteers at the local hospital to give even more to her community.
Now if it were a case where this overachieving teenager was a complete klutz when it came to sports, I might understand the coach’s reluctance to her joining her school’s field hockey however she is a returning JV letter in field hockey.  She spent her summer attending camps to improve her skills and endurance.  She can easily out-run the majority of her team mates in both sprints and longer distances.  If this wasn’t enough, she also possesses the heart, grit and determination of a lion as well as a team-first attitude. 
Now perhaps she is a bit on the small side standing only "5-foot something" but what she lacks in size is made up with tenacity and an ever-present willingness to help her team...
I suppose I do understand the coach’s position, dressing everyone is not an option but I would think that the coach wouldn’t mind practicing 19 girls and choosing her best 16 from week to week.  By using this method, she would force the bottom rung of the ladder to work harder or risk losing their valuable spot.  This young lady was willing to join the "practice squad" this year, working out with the team while waiting her chance to compete for a spot next year.
For some unknown reason the team’s coach decided that this was not the best course of action for the team and cut the 3 extra players instead. 
I suppose I can console myself knowing that field hockey is just a game.  Cutting her is really the coach’s loss, as someday soon, this young girl hopes to off studying medicine and make a real difference in this world.  She isn’t bitter but just a bit sad in that she’ll miss the camaraderie of being apart of a team.
I do understand what it is like to be the underdog.  I think that I’ve been an underdog all my life with limited resources growing up and very limited physical talents.  
Now I’m involved with OptiFuse, a small upstart company that fights every day to eke out a small market-share against  the two behemoths of our industry.  We have to work harder, provide better service, and try to work with our customers to create new products to solve their problems.  If we don’t...we simply won’t survive.
One of my favorite movies is Rudy.  It tells the story of one person’s dream and the commitment, desire and hard work he’s willing to put forth to fulfill his dream...perhaps we can all learn a great lesson about dreams and hard work...
Rudy Clip
At OptiFuse, our success is based on cooperation rather than competition; working together to fight a common competitor and to make OptiFuse a better place to work.  A team is only as good as its players.  There will always be a place for the likes of my friend’s daughter woman and others like her.
I am so very much encouraged by our next generation as they continue to teach us great lessons and will help to push us to better things ahead...this young lady may not have a field hockey career in front of her but she definitely has a high probability of winning at life...
Thank you so much for all your support of OptiFuse as we hope to lead by example...

Jim Kalb

Previous Blogs

How Much is Your Time Worth?

I’ll Take Door Number Two

Here’s Mud in Your Pie

Treasures and Trinkets

Good, Better and Best...

A Winner by a Nose...

A Pain in the Neck...

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