By Georgetta L. Morque
We’ve all heard “winning isn’t everything,” but losing on the other hand can be devastating. Picking up the pieces when things have gone south has long been a challenge for many, both young and old and from all walks of life. Rye resident Sam Weinman explores this topic in his new book, “WIN AT LOSING: How Our Biggest Setbacks Can Lead to Our Greatest Gains,” which will be published December 20.
Weinman is the digital editor of Golf Digest and former lead hockey and golf writer for The Journal News and LoHud.com, where he also launched the popular hockey blog, “Rangers Report.” An award-winning writer, his work has regularly appeared in Gannett newspapers across the country, including USA Today. He has also contributed to Golf World, Yahoo! Sports, ESPN the Magazine, and Sports Illustrated.
Through his work, Weinman has witnessed top professional athletes rebound from major upsets, yet he was really drawn to writing about losing after seeing his two sons, Charlie, 11, and Will, 8, struggle with losses in their sports. He could relate well since he remembers passing the puck to an opposing team player, who then scored in a Rye High School Varsity Hockey playoff game. After Rye’s loss, Weinman said he threw his team jacket into a puddle. “But I didn’t want this to define me,” he recalls, and became motivated to have a better season the following year.
Passionate about the topic, he set out to examine how others bounced back from humiliating losses and found resilience and strength. “Everyone has had some sort of losing experience that has crushed them at some level,” says Weinman in video about the book. In addition to pro athletes, he wanted to move beyond sports to interview business executives, start-up entrepreneurs, actors and politicians. He also consulted leading psychologists and coaches to better understand the essential life skill of learning to lose.
In the end, Weinman uncovered uplifting stories from people such as presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, who lost the election in 1988; actress Susan Lucci, who finally won an Emmy after 19 nominations; golfer Greg Norman, who blew his last chance to win the Masters; and the Columbia University Football team members who lost 44 straight games. Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and noted authors have given the book stellar reviews.
While his career in journalism didn’t gel until college, Weinman remembers influential teachers at Rye High School, including Kevin Kelly, Jane Johnson, George Roy, Neil Mendick, and John Serafin, as well as his hockey coach, John Zegras. He and his wife, Lisa, née Quirk, whom he has known since fifth grade at Osborn School, were both members of the Rye High School class of 1992. “We loved growing up here and the sense of community,” said Weinman, whose parents, Jerry and Sandy Weinman, still live here. Sam coaches Rye Little League and Rye Rangers Hockey, which he says are the highlights of his weekends.
Weinman hopes the book will be a source of inspiration and that readers will come away feeling confident that they can try something and not be afraid of failing. Failure, he concludes, can be a great opportunity. He quotes his favorite hockey player Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Whatever the context, Weinman says Gretzky really means that the biggest mistake you can make is to not even try.
Weinman will speak at the Rye Free Reading Room, where he spent time writing the book, on January 22.
Photo by Charlie Weinman