I’m tired tonight so I almost didn’t write this. But these are things I’ll want to remember on a hard day, so here I am.
If you know much about me, you know that coaching brings me joy. I’ve always said that if I could spend every day of the rest of my life running around barefooted with these crazy kids, I would call it a life well lived.
More than anything, evidence that I have an impact on these kids–that I have in some way brought them confidence and helped them build self-esteem and competence–reminds me why I started coaching in the first place. It always seems like such a tiny thing at face value, maybe just an off-hand comment, but watching them grow and being told how much they’ve improved always makes my day.
Earlier this week, I was working out lesson schedules with a parent when she texted back, “You know my daughter well.” There are times when we coaches can feel so helpless as we watch a kid struggling with mental blocks, anxiety, or shame (in addition to “real-world” issues, which is always so hard), but it’s statements like that that reaffirm I’m doing a good job learning who my athletes are as people and what they need from me as we work together.
I have another athlete who struggles with ADHD (which I get, given that that’s had an enormous impact on every facet of my own life). Coaches, teachers, etc. get on her case a lot, and the poor kid tries so hard. She gets anxious about remembering things, and she is so upset with herself when she “messes up again.” She was so worried she was going to forget things or do the wrong thing that she was hindering her learning process from start to finish. I started doing private lessons with her, and I have just loved seeing the joy in her face as she realizes that she really CAN get all these skills–and even be the best at them the more she practices. I told her that one day, she could compete Level V or cheer in high school or even college too if she keeps working hard, and it was just like a lightbulb went on.
Her grandfather came to practice Friday and found me afterward to introduce himself. He told me that he wanted me to know how much of a change has been wrought in lil’ one, and that even if it doesn’t seem big to me, her lessons with me are a huge deal in their household and for his granddaughter. He said after hearing everything his wife especially had told him about our lessons, he just really wanted to meet me and shake my hand.
I may not have everything together 100% of the time, but if nothing else, I can count on the fact that I can make a difference for these girls. That’s a lot more important than, say, having a clean room (which I still fail at about…maybe 98% of my adult life), which is my current self-improvement project.