Omahuh? Cav coaches can learn things there

Ah, Omaha, home of– well, of what?

According to NPR, Omaha isn’t home merely to the greatest indie-rock club in the country (Slowdown), but also to a very polluted Missouri River. That's because the city is allegedly pumping it full of untreated sewage so the TD Ameritrade Park can stay nastiness-free.

For those attending the College World Series this week, the stench may be hard to take, but there's a lot to be learned in Omaha. So one can only hope Mike London and Tony Bennett are part of the record-breaking crowds.

It may seem counterintuitive to think about football and basketball when UVA is becoming a baseball powerhouse (a second CWS appearance in three years, not too shabby). But if anything, the opposite is true.

There’s a reason The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are bestsellers.

Think about it. Baseball, lacrosse, rowing, golf, tennis, track and field. Virginia is doing something very right in the spring sports department, and those coaches still looking for success (you know who you are) would be remiss if they failed to recognize there are lessons to be learned from spring sports, no matter how unglamorous they may seem. So put the recruiting packets down for a minute, and go west, young men.

Omaha is a perfect setting for the College World Series, and it’s a perfect place to learn about success. Like college baseball itself, the city isn’t flashy or glitzy, and there has never been much pomp associated with it.

It’s that lack of ostentation that can provide Mike London and Tony Bennett with a real advantage; D-I college football and basketball are so mired in vanity and indulgence (and who knows what else) that staying focused on the game can be difficult. But generally the opposite is true of spring sports.

Even baseball and lacrosse, the most popular sports on Virginia’s spring schedule, barely raise the needle on the glitz-meter. What’s become clear at UVA is that when the trappings are stripped away and the work takes center stage, success is almost ensured.

Here's a surprise: since the ACC expanded in 2004-2005, Virginia has unquestionably dominated the conference. In the past six seasons UVA has racked up 37 ACC titles, five this year alone (Florida State is a distant second with 26, and Virginia Tech ranks seventh with 11 conference titles).

It’s an amazing and under-appreciated accomplishment. Every year, boosters and fans spend the majority of their time, money, and energy on football and basketball while other sports struggle to make ends meet. So why are the most monied and glamorous sports in UVA’s repertoire also the least successful? What do Virginia baseball, lacrosse, tennis and crew have that football and basketball don’t?

The secrets of success, evidently. If London and Bennett watched the Cavs' World Series opener, they saw those secrets in practice on the field: find opportunities where other people see problems; don’t complain; use what you have effectively; deal with problems quickly; finish what you start; don’t rationalize failure.

These are the lessons have led the Virginia Cavaliers directly to Gold River and Stanford and Baltimore and, yes, even to Omaha. So hop on a plane, Mike London and Tony Bennett, and breathe in that sewage stench for all it’s worth. It’s the smell of a championship.
Juanita lives on a farm in Charlotte County with her husband, son, and many dogs.

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