This postgame huddle had meaning.
Actually, it was a postseason huddle. ILH champion Punahou had just fallen victim to a Mililani comeback in the girls soccer state tournament quarterfinals on Saturday, and the Buffanblu, after the handshake line, got together in a circle.
The season was over, so it was time for the players, coaches and managers to say goodbye for now.
One of the first things coach Starr Johnson said after the final whistle and before the huddle was: “No tears, ladies.”
She sort of got what she wanted. There were tears and it was hard to tell if they were sad or happy tears. Probably both.
But there were laughs, too, and that’s what made this meeting special. Sharing laughs after your team loses in such a big game is not common.
Everybody involved with the team was asked to relate one special memory from the season — and it was evident from the laughter that this team had fun on and off the field.
“This was a teaching moment,” Johnson said. “I wanted them to know and remember the true value of the season; to put everything into perspective in the grand scheme of things; to recenter them.
“My definition of success is working hard and loving each other. We were successful by this measure. Many of the players said this was the most supportive team they’ve ever been on.”
Punahou midfielder True Dydasco said the journey she had with the team is “better than a state championship.”
Dydasco was also quick to point out that losing in the quarterfinals “sucks.”
No matter. They huddled in the postseason to take a look at what matters as they move on in life. Friends. Associates. Teammates. Support system. Laughter. And yes, despite Johnson’s protestation, tears.
Every team but one loses the race for the state championship. Punahou didn’t make it this season, but the Buffanblu gained a bond and cohesiveness that will have deep meaning in their lives.
For them, the quarterfinal loss was tough to swallow in one way, but in another, it was just the end of a beautiful journey.