Lea_Nan“You should be so embarrassed”.

A little over a week ago, members of the Region IV Women’s Presidents Cup Team heard these incredible words at the official P-Cup /Nationals Check in dinner. They weren’t overheard by someone else then relayed to the team, the words weren’t whispered behind our backs. They were said face to face in a matter-of-fact tone laced with a substantial hint of disgust.  It was a jaw-dropping moment. A very un-paddle-like moment.

We won 2 of 15 matches in P-Cup this year. But embarrassed? NOT! As the P-Cup Captain for Region IV, let me tell you why nothing could be further from the truth. I’ll call it the “Lea and Nan Factor”.

This was my first year as President’s Cup Captain. It was a pretty easy job… a spreadsheet and a bunch of formulas. Hit the SUM button and presto! Up pops the names of the players who played and scored and qualified for P-Cup. Down the list I go. Are you in or out? The 5 lines were filled with little issue.

Last year, an injury to one of our team members meant that our subs were critically important but with the revised format and fewer matches, barring injury or illness, it was unlikely that our subs for this year would play a match. I posed the question to the team – subs or no subs? It was unanimous – especially when I told the team the names of the next 2 on the master list.

The best moment of my entire paddle season came next. Better than walking into the Skyline in Cincy, better than my down the line return winner in the tight quarter in Cleveland (ok, that may have been a dream), better than watching 7-foot tall Anton Mavrin climb onto a kid’s train ride on our tour of Toronto post PPTA clinics (that was a close 2nd).

I got to call Lea and Nan and say “you made the P-Cup team” .. ok not a call – an email (hey, its 2013!).  The return email came about 4 milliseconds later.

Yes! Yes! Yes! OMG! Yes!! We can’t believe it! Yes!

Here’s how the rest of the e-combo went:

Me: I have to tell you that the likelihood of you guys playing an actual match is slim to none.

Lea and Nan: We don’t care.

Me: You still have to pay the entry fee.

Lea and Nan: We don’t care.

Me: It’s a long way to go and an extra night in a hotel.

Lea and Nan: We don’t care.

Me: You still have to be there for 7 AM.

Lea and Nan: We don’t care.

Me: We all really want you on the team.

Lea and Nan: We’ll be the best cheerleaders- beer fetchers-moral supporters you’ll ever have!

And that’s pretty much how things played out. They didn’t get to play. But they never stopped smiling, cheering, scorekeeping, backpatting, hugging.  They were the backbone of our team and a true reflection of what it means to play for your Region in P-Cup.

The Region IV women have had our share of wins at P-Cup, we’ve come close a few times and we’ve also had years (like this one) where the competition was beyond fantastic and we have not done as well as we have hoped. This year, we won 2 of 15 matches we played. Honestly, we knew going in that our chances of winning P-Cup this year were about as good as figuring out Juan’s drop shot or the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup – take your pick.

But we were a team – made up of 12 very competitive women. We fought every match, every point as hard as any other team. To the very last point, played in the pouring rain-snow-sleet mix, we never gave up, never stopped wanting to win or trying our best. And Lea and Nan were there for every point.

The emails amongst our team on each of our long drives home told the story – everyone so happy to have been a part of a great team.  Still laughing, still praising each other, still giving each other virtual pats on the back. The last thing we felt was embarrassed. It was a special year for Region IV.

I hope you all get to experience The Lea and Nan factor one day.

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