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Learning to win through losing

By ALYSHA TSUJI
College Contributor Network

The sweet taste of victory is delectable. It's mouth watering. People work for years to win things. In sports, maybe that thing is a gold medal or a trophy or bragging rights.

But sometimes the competition doesn't go as planned and it winds up being a loss. Losing can be humiliating, depressing and unbearable. However, it can also be motivating and extremely valuable, if taken in the right light.

To win humbly and lose gracefully is a wise way to live life. Outcomes aren't always champagne showers. Last weekend, Pepperdine women's soccer fell 1-0 to UCLA in the Sweet 16 -- heartbreaking. The Lakers have already lost 11 times in 14 games -- painful. I've lost dozens of close basketball games growing up -- annoying.

Take that and flip it. Use each loss as a learning experience. The Pepperdine soccer team can ingest this season's loss and refocus that letdown into fuel for next season with a bulk of the team returning. The Lakers ... actually, not too sure about them, but I truly learned how to lose growing up. Our team was the most hopeless group of players for countless years until something clicked and we slowly started winning.

Through that I learned that you should shake hands with everyone -- coaches and referees included -- even if that flurry of last second foul calls has you feeling extra salty. I learned that viciously yelling at people and being yelled at isn't conducive to a successful team. I learned that holding grudges against teammates helps no one.

Without agonizing losses, I wouldn't have gained any of those lessons. I'd probably be a selfish, arrogant, bitter person if I always ended up at the top in everything I did. Because of that, I'm grateful for all the times I found myself at the bottom of the pile.

This is one of those topics that can also branch into other areas of life (as sports so often does). Friendships, car keys, job opportunities, those can be lost too. And they can be learning experiences.

Not allowing losses to tear you down, but to instead take them in stride and use them to build you up contributes to prosperous seasons in sports and in life. Step back on the court, shoot the buzzer beater, and fill out another application. While each loss can be excruciating, it can be equally as rewarding.

Alysha Tsuji is a senior Journalism major at Pepperdine University. Her passion lies in sports media, namely when it comes to covering the NBA. Follow her on Twitter: @AlyshaTsuji​
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