Saturday, February 4, 2012

THE CONFIDENCE GAME ~ By Paul Pilarcik's kid . . . Kate, absolutely

~ Recollections from Paul Pilarcik's kid, Kate

"Confidence is contagious. 
  So is lack of confidence." 

Mr Lombardi looked me solid in the eye when he let that one fly by. I remember it well. I didn't hesitate. I winked back, and then went for the slant ... deep out ... deep in ... short post. It was a stop n'go and I caught what Bart's rifle arm could throw.

With only 47 seconds left to go, I knew we had to win. Winning was the only thing. It had been drummed into all of us so long, so well. There was no way in Titletown, I'd let us fail. Y'know, I felt Coach's momentum before I actually heard him. He was chargin' right along the sideline, takin' no chances any of us would drop the ball. This game was it. This game was all.

"If you can accept losing,
  you can't win."

I knew how fire-in-the-belly serious he was. Today, there'd be no grin. Well sure, naturally, he wanted us fired up -- 

"Kid, if you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm."

Sheeeeesh, Coach Lombardi. What a guy. Born a Gemini in Brooklyn, he came ready-equipped to form a team and lead that team to double season wins of the first two Super Bowls ever played. Vincent Thomas Lombardi's dynamics were forces of an indomitable dual nature that began at the line of scrimmage and didn't let up til the endzone, when the final whistle blew.

"Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile." 

Goals? My life sure had 'em. Back when I played for Coach, and how! Most definitely, here and now. How could it be otherwise? In '67 and '68, when we took out Kansas City, and then the Oakland Raiders -- (the team whose coach named the Bowl "Super") -- Coach Lombardi had the team focus wholeheartedly on the "W", to make legend great. No jive, just jargon ~ over and over, this was destined fate:

"If it doesn't matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?" 

Life's all about keeping score, making goal line stands, being an open receiver, and somedays, glorious somedays, even perfecting a sanctified Hail Mary pass. Well sure, in the super game of Life there are shifty officials, illegal procedures, botched incompletions and sometimes, when the blitz is really on, intentional grounding. That's when my hero, my Dad, who looked to Lombardi as his hero, would ask, "What are you gonna do Kid? You know you can lick anything. Just always give it your best. Always."

"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."

© 2012 ~ Author/Sports afficiando ~ABSOLUTELY*KATE
CREDITS ~ All quotations are Coach Vince Lombardi's or Coach Paul Pilarciik's as noted.
Iconic Lombardi photo from the Canton Football Hall of Fame
Celestial Dad Paul photo from the Pilarcik family collection

  My Dad is Paul Pilarcik. He taught me football. He taught me Lombardi. He taught me Steelers. All I had to do was sit in the living room and watch TV with him. Oh yeah, I had to be quiet too. I sure did learn a lot though. My Dad, in his own strong, quiet, humourous way, coached my life. By example, by training, by the all-out drive to reach the 'necessary line'. First and ten, do it again

And he believed THE BEST in others so fully,
that there was no choice, no option play ~
If knocked down, Confidence got you up.

~ Kate 

I didn't really play in a game with Coach Lombardi, but I bet if I met him, I would've listened to his fortitude gain yardage . . . and I'm sure I would've winked. Yeah, I would've. And who knows - with superb pass protection?
I could - go - all - the - way . . . 

But this weekend's Super Bowl plays out to the gridiron gumption between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, not the Green Bay Packers, not even the worthy Pittsburgh Steelers. Lombardi once coached the Giants though, did you know that? Hmmm. Why, Lombardi's the kind of caliber of a man you'd think they'd name a trophy after one day. Hmm, imagine that. But can a team out-Belichick Belichick? The coach with the locker room poster from a centuries' old Chinese philosopher of war:


{ We shall see what we shall see. }

Enjoy the weekend. Enjoy the game.
Thanks for comin' round to see "THE SHADOWS OF OUR NOIR" in stunning author shows *AT THE BIJOU* time after time and then some. They start up again the week following the Super Bowl . . . but now ~

a classic word from our sponsor

~ Absolutely Steeler*Kate

~ Believing in the Best that's yet to Be.


Normandie Fischer said...

Kate, you've caught me. Here I am again, reading, smiling, applauding. I don't watch football, but I do watch writers writing and clapping and waving the flag.


Matthew S. Magda said...

Life is about keeping score. As Lombardi meant, keeping score about your performance not that of your opponent's. To do your best, to do your best, to do your best. And to do what you say you are going to do. As Belichick understands confidence comes from preparation, and from preparation comes success. And that's what Paul Pilarcik did. He prepared and inspired his children to do their best and to do good ("Real and permanent good" as A. Carnegie stated.)

Normandie is right, catch this one and you are caught.

Bravo Kate.

Graham Smith said...

Excellet and philosophical tale Kate.

Super bowl stories from a Super Broad.

Harry said...

Hope you are doing your touchdown dance Katie*Girl 'cuz you scored big time here! You and the Prof have a great time tomorrow! You Could Go All The Way!

Anonymous said...

I'm so impressed with how well you and Mr. Lombardi got a long. Fun as usual.

Jeanette C

Kevin Michaels said...

Very nicely done Kate. Speaks so well to the character of that man who used to sit with you in the living room of that house in Ohio. And the character of the little girl who listened to those lessons from her father and carried them with her every step of the way.

Well done. Your Dad would be proud.


Anonymous said...

kate - loved! and i don't doubt one bit that there's nothing paul's daughter can't lick. :)

seana graham said...

I liked this a lot. I am not a football fan, but I think it's fun to hear you tell it.

I had a funny moment after work yesterday when I went to the local Trader Joe's and was milling aimlessly around trying to figure out what to eat, as usual, when I ran into my old classics teacher and his wife. Seeing the blue cheese in one hand and the beer in the other, he said "Shopping for the superbowl? That's what we're doing too!" I somehow found it very touching that he would leap to that conclusion.

Have a great time, everyone!

Ryn Cricket said...

First of all, I love the way you write. And you always seem to say, just what I need to hear. This is a beautiful homage to Coach Lombardi and your father. Both were obviously great teachers in your life. Thank you for sharing and reminding me of my mentors and inspirational moments. Thank you for the huddled pep talk.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Normandie ~

Indeed you caught the spirit. Your smile's a pretty full one to sense out there - a fellow lover of what's good and right in this here world. Wouldn't take much to have you fired up waving a Terrible Towel someday. Stick around lovely Lady -- the gusto of GameDays transcends well into rooting for great outcomes on all playing fields.

~ Grace o'my thanks
~ Absolutely*Kate

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Matthew my love,

Your beautiful mind, as movie titles go, and sense of how I write what I feel to share/care the more is daily a gift that enhances all strivings. Wish you knew Paul more years than you shared. Inspiration is the coaching that comes with awareness way past current abilities.

Keep sailing. We've intellectual and adventurous journeys yet to sail . . . NFL seasons yet to hail. And *thankyou* for how you say what you say in all your between the linngs. ~ Kate

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

From a rough and tumble rugby gent, I'll accept your cool, kind words with a sashay on the 50 yard line dear Graham. Your big heart gains much yardage every day in how your insight realizes the expressiongs of those around you.

Always in your corner, even when it's a stadium,
~ Absolutely*Kate

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Harry - Touchdown Dance started the moment I read/felt your message here, my talented writing companion from time to tiempo. Darned if the ref didn't blow his whistle for that "Excessive Celebration" call - Cost me 5 or 10 yards, but I made the conversion.

Being on a team with you . . . is always a championship year.
Prof's spirits fell in the 4th but I enjoyed two worthy challengers givin' their best. Like Paul used to say, "If the Steelers get knocked out in the playoffs - the good news is there's no longer any pressure. Now I can just enjoy football." I did. Trust you did with your buddies too.

Thanks pal,

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

As usual Jeanette, you give great smiles whenever you take over your whole row 3 AT THE BIJOU -- (I hear there are arguments now as to who gets to sit next to you as the mutterings during each show are some of the best lines we know).

You cracked me up here . . . and certainly Lombardi would've wanted to talk about high values and success drives with the likes of You. It's your nature, after all ... and grateful Kate-full I am for it.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

You know, Mr Michaels ~ There are SuperBowl trophies and Pushcart prizes and red red roses and bottles of wine won on football bets. There are ocean walks and promotional publishing enterprises yet to be adventured upon with the good gusto of a trusted colleague friend.

And then there is expressing "Your Dad would be proud." == and I know the greatest award-winning-moment of them all. Your insight touched me deeply ... but you knew that.

Thanks for reading, reading into and assessing.
Wish you woulda made it to coffee with Paul ... even as a Ravens fan, he would've liked the valours of your nature. ~ Kate

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Bolton, sweet gridiron gal that you are -- meant much that you shared this one and so many NFL Sundays. The fact that you caught one of the greatest legacies Paul gave me to live up to makes me cheer You on likewise, all the more.

On to the rest of cheering on this year!
~ Absolutely Steeler*Kate

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

And I too enjoyed the tale o'life You shared, dear Seana. Even read the anecdote out loud to Prof, Matt. We both smiled at a classics teacher with the author/bookseller lady of great zest, blue cheese and brewskis. Makes me sharing the football I shared with the man who grew up in Perryopolis, PA all the more special.

But the biggest special was that as 'not a football fan', you felt the fun of my gridiron gumption relating to a fired up corner of the playing field of life that always makes me keep my eye on the ball.

Grace o'my thanks, fellow author in our anthology of Grimm Tales (and I sense more is in our shared authoring destiny). ~ Absolutely*Kate

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Dear Ryn of the Browns era gone from the shores of Lake Erie to where you tackle life in another great chapter in Thailand. YOU INSPIRE ME as well, with your adventurous teachings and providing your little girls a mom-model of class and distinction. Never will I forget the moment you transcnded the mere internet with rallies of optimism around the Cleveland Clinic we sent Dad up to following the last Steelers game he ever watched in a hospital in Warren, Ohio - when he told the nurse he was getting out of his bed to watch the game in a chair, next to his brother as they did all their boyhood/manhood days.

He didn't make if back for another season, but is with me keeping flags off my forward motion in so many ways that transcends the mere world. Likewise, a huddled pep talk (Dad's initials? P.E.P.) is ever a reality across mere miles to you from me. Stay strong, follow your gut that you're where you are when you sense you should be. And listen to your heart. It's the best voice in all huddles ... emanating from mentors that have made you what you are this fine day.

Sending energies and *thanks* for kinds words on my words
~ Kate

Kristin Fouquet said...

Ah, sweet Kate, you kicked me right in the old Achilles' heel. I too was such a daddy's girl and watched many a football game with mine. I was amused at his passion, happy or angry, with every play. Sometimes the language would escalate and my mother called it "obscene football."

"Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence." I love this so much and will try to remember it in my insecure moments. Thanks for this lovely tribute to your father. You are an inspiration to share this legacy.