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Playing sports while growing up a benefit in all aspects of life, columnist says

Rewards from experiences in athletics can be great

Playing sports while growing up is far more beneficial than just the physical aspects gained from competing.

To me the most important aspect is the development of the person through life

lessons learned on the playing field.

Growing up in Pleasanton, I was able to learn more about life through my experiences playing in various youth sports and then at Amador Valley High School. Blessed with a series of great coaches, a tremendous foundation was laid out not just for myself, but all my teammates as well.

It's not a guarantee, of course, that the athlete embraces the lessons in front of them, but for those that do, the rewards can be great.

In watching the Masters and the Golden State Warriors, there were lessons for the taking and it is up to us to make sure the lessons were learned.

Having coached youth soccer and football teams in Pleasanton and spending 16 years covering high school athletics, I have always placed development above winning. Don't get me wrong, I love winning, but there has to be more than finishing on top.

To me it is all about accountability and responsibility. In the team game, you have a responsibility to your teammates to try your best and not to be something that serves as a distraction or a detriment to your teammates.

Individually, there has to be an understanding that you alone are responsible for your actions and results. You have to take the bad with the good and handle both graciously and with class.

Watching Jordan Spieth Sunday at the Masters was painful. A testament to his character was that he came back to finish second. Another was the way he handled the defending champion's duty of placing the Green Jacket on the winner.

Hurting, Spieth persevered and the crowd on hand recognized it, giving Spieth a rousing standing ovation at the ceremony. As Spieth said, it will hurt for a while, but he will benefit and come back even stronger.

The incident took me back to when I was covering a high school softball section championship. The star player for the Pleasanton school was a freshman and the accolades had poured in throughout the season.

In the title game she had a bad game and her team lost. She was visibly upset after the game and the coach asked me not to talk to her as she was hurting. I knew the coach well enough and had been around the team throughout the year, I suggested that he allow her to talk as she needed to understand that with the good comes some bad as well.

The coach relented and although it was tough for her to talk, she powered through and gave an insightful interview. The player went on to become arguably the best high school athlete I ever covered and has gone on to the highest stage her sport as to offer. She has dealt with adversity along the way and always handled it with class, consistently beating back the adversity she faced.

With the Warriors, it is the sheer joy the team brings to each game that is key. They have superstars and role players. But watching them it is as they are one.

There are some great players in sports that don't win titles, including some who let their ego and me first attitude get in the way of the team's success. Working together towards a common goal is a lesson that athletes can use in all aspects of life.

The lessons are there and it is our duty to help the youngsters of today to learn it so they in turn can pass it on to the next generation.

I wrote two weeks ago about how wonderful it is that two new high school football coaches are giving back. Let's work together to make sure that is always the case.

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