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Thoughts From Dr. Joe:Lucy Girl!

June 08, 2007|By Joe Puglia

Without question, I thought the sentimental favorite was Lucy Newcombe, a little girl no more than 9 years old. I watched her hands as she clutched her helmet. Her grip was not excessively tight and seemed to mesh with gentle eyes that showed more determination than fright. With a concerted effort, she wiggled into a defined and narrow cockpit; then, with two eyes barely peering over a plastic frame, she took one deep breath, steadied her gaze, and tightened her grip around a feeble steering wheel. "Go Lucy Girl," I shouted, hoping that it would make a difference.

The starter released the lever and sent Lucy and her opponent barreling down Michigan Hill at 30 miles per hour in their soap box racing car contraptions at the 8th Annual Soap Box Derby Races in La Cañada. I am told that the drivers' ability to keep their cars running on a perfectly straight tangent is the secret to success and that concentration is the key.

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As Lucy sped down the hill, I sensed her exhilaration and realized that, regardless of how she placed, she had already won. I hoped that Lucy Girl realized that going for it was more important than winning. The spirit of a competitor is not solely geared to indulging in winning or losing. Instead, is it the race, it is the struggle that drives the doer of deeds. It is the process and what we learn by racing down its path. That's what learning is: not whether we lose the race, but how we lose,how we've changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other races. Losing, in a curious way, is winning … the taste of defeat has a richness of experience all of its own.

As I saw Lucy race by, I couldn't help but hum "Go Speed Racer … Go Speed Racer … Go!" No one has ever bet enough on a winning racer and I was betting the bank on Lucy Girl.

Every year, kids throughout the United States and several foreign countries race their Soap Box Derby cars at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio, to vie for the title of champion

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