One in a Row, Again and Again

Winning just one in a row- again and again until the work is done. That’s the simple key to success. Some of the dates and details below may not exactly accurate, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story…😉

In the late fall of 1998, I was 12 years old, and I had been selected to play in what’s affectionally known as the “Turkey Bowl.” This was a playoff between all of the South Georgia Recreational Football All-Star Teams. I don’t remember exactly how many teams there were, but it was a pretty big deal to play, at least in my small world. That season I played on a top 5 team in our city, Camilla, Ga. I was a big boy, could run decently well, and had a good arm. I was one of our team’s best players and assumed the same would be for the all-star team.

Well, wasn’t I certainly wrong? On the first day of practice, they had us run some drills. I was slower, of equal or smaller size, couldn’t seem to hit as hard as anyone, and honestly was a little scared of playing with some of these big boys. We had about a week of practice before the first game. I lost and then lost again, over and over again.


My dad always showed up to as many practices as he could, often late because he worked until sundown. One day he showed up as I was sitting on the bench with my helmet off because I wasn’t getting any reps. I was pouting, acting like a baby. If you have met my dad, you know that ‘shit wasn’t going to fly.’ It’s just not what we do. “How can you get in the game if you aren’t ready when the coach calls your name?” he said to me. I was upset at him and the situation.

I remember him grabbing me by my shoulder pads and spinning me around. He gave me one hell of a pep talk. He told me I would get an opportunity to get in the game, and it was up to me to prove to the coaches that I could play. So as any good dad would do, he walked me to the coach after the game and apologized for my lack of effort during practice. Dad said that if the coach gave me a shot, I wouldn’t disappoint him. And the last thing I EVER wanted to do was disappoint my dad.

Anyway, I eventually got my shot during the next week’s practice. I remember thinking to myself that I have to win this rep. Just one in a row. That guy lined up across from me; I have to beat him. It won’t be easy, I know it will hurt, but I have to win one in a row! So I did. And then another, and another and another until I’d earned a starting spot. It’s not that I won them all, but I won more than I lost. I went from playing QB to starting as a defensive end, and we won the turkey bowl that year! We were the PRIDE OF CAMILLA, SON!

One in a row, Again.

Well, fast forward to High School; I’m still playing QB. We had a decent team throughout my high school years, winning a few state championships. But we lost in the state semifinals my senior year, and my “career” was finished. I later found out I got selected to play for the GISA (Georgia) all-star team that would face off against the SCISA from South Carolina. I was selected as a QB and Safety, and I was as cocky as I could be showing up to that first practice. Hell, why wouldn’t I be? Well, as I’ve learned often happens when you get a little too big for your britches, I got embarrassed. It didn’t help that there were three other QB’s on the team, two of which had set high school passing records and would end up playing college ball.

It’s funny how history repeats itself… I was again standing on the sideline. But this time, my helmet was on, and I was begging the coach to let me get some reps anywhere, anytime. I didn’t really get those reps aside from about a dozen on a prevent defense (but I did have an interception during one of the practice series) and kickoffs. Unfortunately, there was only one game. I DID, however, get to be on the kick-off coverage team- I was big and fast. One in a row.

It’s kick-off time. The coin flips; we win. Naturally, we choose to defer, and they choose to receive. Our kicker booms the ball down the field. At the last second, their guys decide to come out of the endzone. I meet him face-to-face and absolutely lower the boom- one in a row. I’m sure the coaches made a note. They end up punting; we get the ball and score. We kick off again; they bring it out again. BOOM, I lay another good lick, this time smashing the guy between the other gunner on our team. One in a row.

As I’m coming off the field, the coach yells, “Shirah, you’re at Free Safety this series.” HEY NOW, WE ARE IN THE CHIPS, I think to myself. This was it, my opportunity. I was playing aside one of my high school rivals Bryan Grebel who was possibly one of the most talented athletes I have ever seen run, shoot, catch, hit, or cover. It didn’t matter the sport; the guy was a freak. I intercepted the ball on that drive, and the rest was history. One in a row.

We destroyed them… like 42-10 or something. I didn’t come out of the game on defense and even ended up dropping a bomb on a seam route that couldn’t have been throw better. Dang, that was fun to reminisce.

Consistency is Everything.

“Hard work beats Talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Tim Notke.

Winning or accomplishing your endeavors only takes being successful at one in a row. Then do it again and again until the work is done. Whatever it takes, no stopping. I like to gamify things so I like to have a contest with myself. How consistent can I be? How many days can I do the things I know I must do in order to be successful? 3 days, 10 days, 21 days? I always eventually fail. And then, I start again. One day at a time, winning just one in a row.

It’s go time!