Saturday, January 26, 2013

To Be More

One of my favorite jobs was as a high school softball and volleyball coach. The experience itself was not always pleasant, working with people who were not supportive was often difficult. But overall, working with kids who loved to play, that part was amazing.

When I was in high school, I was lucky enough to have a handful of very supportive coaches and teachers who believed in me and pushed me to succeed. I know that not every student had that. My brothers went to school there and they didn't feel that kind of support. My husband went to school there and he never had support from anyone. 

I fell into coaching after high school, when I needed some positive focus in my life. My high school softball coach asked me to come and help, and it was the motivation I needed to keep moving. He was always pushing me to do more and be more. As a coach, I wanted to do that, too.

Coaching wasn't as easy as I had anticipated. I struggled walking the line between being too friendly and relaxed with the girls and being too strict and overbearing. I wanted the experience to be fun. I wanted them to enjoy being there. But I wanted them to work hard and learn and achieve. It was hard to mix that all together. They weren't always happy with me, and I wasn't always happy with them. It was a learning experience for me, and I've taken away many important lessons from my time coaching. I do feel like if I ever step into that position again, I will be better apt to handle all that comes with it. 

More than anything, I wanted to inspire at least one girl to go out and reach for the stars. To push herself to be more than what she believed to be. I remember being that teenage girl, dealing with family problems, trying to juggle everything, and loving the game and using it as my outlet. I had coaches who helped me, who inspired me, who motivated me to work harder every practice and every game. That's what I wanted to be for the girls I was coaching.

I know that I didn't reach every girl that I coached. Several of them left at the end of the season angry because of playing time or awards, and never really understood the lessons I was trying to teach them. If I could do it again, I would do things differently. Explain myself more. Stick to my guns more. Not waiver so often. 

Over the last four months, I have heard that several of the girls I coached at one point were going to be playing in college. I'm so proud of them! It was unheard of when I played for any girl at our school to play after graduation. It just rarely happened. But here, now, these girls are dreaming bigger and taking chances and going for it! I know that their current coaches probably helped them tremendously in getting prepared for try-outs and scouts, and helping them contact colleges, but I hope that somewhere inside them, when they think back to their high school playing days, they remember the coach they had briefly who may not have brought them a championship or been a good coach in general, but who wholeheartedly believed that they could be and do anything they set their minds to. Because I did believe. I do believe. Even now, I believe in them.

It's still a passion of mine. To inspire young women to be all that they can, to reach for goals they never believed possible. I wasn't able to do it then in the way I had hoped, but I've learned so much from that time of my life, how to communicate, how to lead, how to inspire, how to do better than I did. 

I feel like if we took a little time to praise our children, to back them, to listen to their dreams and goals and validate them, that their would be more young girls (and young boys) reaching for the stars. And not just trying to reach, but actually doing it, actually getting out there and grabbing those stars in their hands and making dreams come true. I genuinely believe it is possible.

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