What It Takes: 80 points, Thousands of Miles

Mike Wardian

Photo courtesy: cuttingedgerunning.com

Editor’s Note: This awesome tale of perseverance has been passed along to us by reader Scott Menoher. Scott coached Mike Wardian in high school, and like many, he is very proud of Mike’s accomplishments.

Players often hear coaches talking about becoming great, about the fact that they can set their course and achieve anything they desire. Well let me tell you about a kid named Mike Wardian. Mike was an attackman on one of the first teams I ever coached, Oakton High School, Vienna Virginia 1992. Back in the day, just like I do now, I sent out a bio sheet for the players to fill out. I read them all, and still do.

So I am reading Mike’s sheet, and he has down that his personal goal for the season is 80 points. Impressive, but in a 12 game regular season that is a serious amount of points. Mind you he hasn’t even made the team yet, and isn’t considered the best attackman on the field, he isn’t huge or lighting fast, his stick is about average. But he is earnest, so I decide to talk to him about it.

“Mike, I see your personal goal is 80 points.”
“Yeah Coach.”
“That is a lot of points.”
“It is.
“You sure you want to stick to that number?”
“Yes I do, I can get 80 points.”
“That would be impressive. So you want to stick with 80?”
“Yes coach.”
“Well alright then, 80 points it is.”

At the end of the regular season we were 8-4, Mike had an impressive count of 60 points (28g, 32a). Not a bad run. We were on a five game winning streak, but we were seated third in the playoffs and were considered a long shot for the championship because we had lost to the top two teams Langley and Robinson during the regular season.

So I decided to talk to Mike again.

“Sticking with 80 points Mike?”
“Yes Coach.”
“You sure?”
“Yes Coach.”

No flash, no bragging, not overly confident. I would call him persistent, intense even.

We played four more games that season. Mike Wardian’s 79th point was the goal that tied our last game against the #1 ranked team in the state and our bitter rival, Langley High School. Langley had beaten us soundly 9-5 during the regular season, and Coach Dodd promised me in the pre-game that his team would not make a spectacle of it when they beat us a second time.

Mike’s last point came as an assist to Dan Walsh in the same game. Dan had four goals on the season – he was solid, but he wasn’t the go to guy, he was a runner and moved the ball up field for the line. Everyone on the team had a role. By this point in the season Mike had proven he was the go to guy. But on his last play of the game, the last game of the season, his last year of high school ball – he decided to give up the ball.

Dan scored the winning goal off of Mike’s assist with 37 seconds left in regulation play. We beat Langley 7-6. Like I said, the game was our last game of the season – the Virginia State Championship (at this time the Northern Virginia Regional Championship). The assist was Mike Wardian’s 80th point. As time ran out, we rushed the field.

“Hey Coach – I never said regular season.”

I will never forget that smile.

It’s about setting your mind and your heart to something, and never being afraid to stop. That’s what being a champion is all about.

Mike is still a champion – you can read about him in the news or on the web, or look at some of the titles he has won below. Being a champion is a habit, it is something that you work at every day. It is about getting back up, it is about who you choose to be.

And the only person that can keep you from being a champion – is you.

Mike Wardian

1st at 2010 National Marathon-Washington, DC
Bronze Medal at 2009 & 2010 50K World Championships-Gibraltar, Gibraltar
3rd Place at 2010-100K World Championships-Gibraltar, Gibraltar
6th Place at 2009-100K World Championships-Torhout, Belgium
USATF National Champion: 2008, 2009, 2010 USATF 50K National Championships
USATF National Champion: 2008-USATF 50 Mile Trail Championships
USATF National Champion: 2008-USATF 100K

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Scott Menoher
As a Colorado lacrosse native I had the chance to begin my career as the area began its lacrosse evolution in the late 80's and continued my passion coaching in Virginia in the early 90's. I saw the international game from England in the late 90's and returned to Virginia briefly before the war brought my family and I to Fayetteville North Carolina, where we have established a growing program that that has just taken off in the public school system. The sport has always provided something intangible for me, something that has made me strive to be better, to reach, serve, or endure. And that is something that we have sought to give back to the players in our programs - most of whom come from military families at Fort Bragg. A place that is safe, that understands where they are coming from and their special hardships, that recognizes their culture and upbringing, and the sacrifice that they make as children of the military.