You sit down at a restaurant and there is a good chance your coffee cup is upside down.
Once you turn it rightside up, any member of the wait staff understands you want it filled.
None for me thanks, I'll take my caffeine in the form of Diet Coke.
I grew up with parents who smoked and drank coffee and I hated the smell of both, so I never indulged myself in either.
Anyway, if you keep the coffee cup in the same manner you first saw it, the message sent to the wait staff is you do not want coffee.
Yet, they ask anyway.
Why is that?
The wait staff understands what is not being said, but really wants to hear it for themselves.
I have been at many places where, after being asked, people turn over their cups to get filled.
Such is the case happening now all over the Ohio Valley.
Practices began today for most athletes, with the rest following suit a week from today.
Each athlete will go to practice with the coffee cup turned up, wanting it to be filled.
Coaches will disseminate information and it is up to the athlete to partake in the drink.
If an athlete doesn't drink up the information, the coaches cannot refill it with more information.
In other words, if the athlete is not paying attention, all of what the coaches are saying is spilling over a filled cup, getting lost.
When that happens, everybody gets mad.
The coaches lose it because the athlete is not paying attention.
The teammates get caught in the crossfire because that excess liquid has now spilled on them because coaches are taking time to get an athlete to pay attention instead of coaching the others.
That same scenario happens daily in a classroom.
It runs downhill.
At the same time, parents must also turn the coffee cup over.
It will be filled by something, whether it be your athlete telling you stories on the day at practice or in the classroom, of a coach or teacher telling you a version of those stories.
Parents, I will let you in on a little secret, coaches and teachers really do not want to talk to us.
They are there to coach and teach, not babysit.
They would have a great year, and so would you, if kids did what was right.
But, that doesn't always happen because we all are humans, fallible and make mistakes daily.
Even with all those mistakes on both sides of the table, the truth being laid out on the table would solve a lot of problems rather quickly.
Coaches and teachers want our kids to drink up the information and education so they can refill the cup.
Coaches and teachers want our kids to succeed.
"My kid wouldn't do that," is a popular response to coaches and teachers and one they have heard 1,000 times too often.
Coaches and teachers do not want that conversation.
The bottom line in all of this is the athlete.
Be a good teammate.
Show up early, not on time.
Drink up all the information so the coaches can fill it up with more information.
If coaches see athletes work hard in practice, they feel comfortable knowing those athletes will work hard during a contest.
If coaches see no plausible work ethic during practice, there is no way they can feel comfortable putting that athlete into a contest unless the outcome has already been determined.
When that happens (and it will) the coach will then evaluate the athletes on their performance.
Coaches will see the effort.
Coaches will see the attitude.
Coaches will see if the athletes really want to play.
"Nothing can stop the person with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the person with the wrong mental attitude." - Thomas Jefferson
Folks, I see it all the time.
There is no talent involved in having a good attitude, being a good teammate, working hard or making an impact.
Dan Jansen at one time was the world's best speedskater.
He fell at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary when everyone thought he would skate to gold.
The story is he was feeling bad one day after a competition and was seeking sympathy from his father, who replied, "Son, there is a lot more to life than skating around in circles."
Sports is a great way to learn about life.
You have to be teammates with athletes you don't like.
You are coached by coaches you may not like.
You are participating in two-a-days, three-a-days while others are just waking up.
Remember, that's your choice.
If you choose to participate, do so with every fiber in your being.
Drink from the cup so it can be filled again and again.
Catholic Central is selling season tickets through Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Cost is $35 per seat and includes the opening doubleheader on Aug. 26.
Next week: Athletes as role models.
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)