Recently, I read an article written by Nate Solder, current New York Giant, former New England Patriot; and the headline really struck a chord with me… “I Went to New England, Where Winning is Everything, Only to Learn That It Is Not”.
I thought to myself, how could an NFL player, whose salary and livelihood is based off winning, outright declare that winning isn’t everything.
I continued to read.
Solder talked about being drafted in 2011 by the New England Patriots; the pressure he felt to protect the blind side of the greatest QB in history; how he was convinced the whole reason for his existence was to win football games; and how winning would fix all of his problems. Because, winning fixes everything right? Solder expected to feel satisfied, but he admits that satisfaction wasn’t it at all. He was empty.
In order to fix this emptiness, Solder would travel. He would sometimes wake up and forget what city he was in. He planned a different trip to a different destination every week in the offseason, in search of something – in search of his purpose. Did he find it? No. He came back from that offseason completely deflated. But, did he know at the time this was just the beginning of his journey towards his purpose? No. Do any of us know that when our journey begins, we are going to find our purpose?
In October 2015, Solder’s son, Hudson, got diagnosed with cancer at 3 months old. He had tumors growing in both his kidneys. Solder and his wife’s worlds turned upside down, and they were now the parents of a pediatric oncology patient. Just like any other parent, they received so much information at once, Solder said “it was overwhelming”, but what got them through was the support and love received from their family – the Patriots. Somewhat surprising at first because New England sports are tough; everything in New England is based on performance – winning is everything. It’s a place where people treat players differently based on how you played that day or how you answered a question in a post-game interview. One day, you could be seen in Boston as a Pro Bowler — the next, you’re about to get cut. But when Hudson was diagnosed, the playbook and the pads were put aside, and the most important thing was family.
“They treated me like a human being instead of a football player or a left tackle,” said Solder.
After endless chemo sessions, missed team meetings and practices, numerous scans, nights sleeping on the hospital floor, and a year-long battle with cancer, Hudson’s port was removed in October 2016. This was the year the Patriots played the Falcons in the Superbowl, and the year Solder found his purpose. “Winning used to be everything to me. But at that moment – being on the field with my teammates and family after winning the craziest super bowl ever, winning wasn’t at the top of my mind. Hudson was.”.
As an On My Team16 athlete, what you can take away from Solder and the New England Patriots is that winning may seem like everything, but it’s not
Individuals rely on sports teams, athletes, and champions – whether that be a super bowl champ or a sectional champ – for inspiration, support, strength, and faith. And, as an OMT16 Athlete THAT is what you are for many children battling cancer.
That is what the Patriots were for Solder and Hudson. That is what Patrick Corbin was for Jack Sheridan. That is what Ben Walsh is for Blair. As an athlete, you provide much more than just a statistic on a chart, and at the end of the day, win or lose, you are making a difference in someone’s life.
In October of this past season, Hudson’s tumors began to grow again, and Solder and his family made the decision to bring his fight to New York, and to the New York Giants. As many of you know, the Giants and the Patriots are major rivals, especially in regards to that season with 18 wins and 1 Giant loss. But, most importantly, Hudson was able to get the medical treatment and care he deserves, and Solder, the Patriots, and the Giants know and respect that…because winning isn’t everything.
As an athlete, on any level of the playing field, you have a choice…to put aside the rivalry, to fight for not only your teammates, coaches and the name on the front of your jersey, but to also fight for those who can not fight for themselves.
As an OMT16 Athlete, you have the ability to dramatically change the lives of those who weren’t given the option of who to play for, or what contract to sign. These children were matched up with cancer, and that is something they can’t change. And believe me when I say that your team, your ability to compete athletically, and the talent you have is worth much more than just a win.
On My Team16 is putting together a care package to send to Hudson and his family, and if you would like to make a donation to add to this, please visit the donation page on our website (onmyteam16.com). We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization so all donations made are considered tax-exempt. If you would like to learn more or become an OMT16 athlete yourself, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website. Thanks so much in advance for your support. #AthletesMakingADifference