In Coaching: Good/Bad/Unfair

Hey Coach! I needed to tell you something! I’ve never told this to anyone cuz it’s way too scary, but I’m sure hoping I can really trust you with it! This is like the second time ever I’ve spoken up in my entire life! The first time, a few years ago, didn’t end so good! And I don’t know if I can go thru that again! I’m depending on you coach!

You see, I’m real quiet. You probably know that cuz I don’t say boo at practice! I’d like to talk more but I can’t seem to! I never speak up in class either cuz I’m much too scared! I’m afraid I’m going to say something stupid and everyone will laugh at me. If that happened, I’d want to die! But I had a teacher once who I thought I could trust. She seemed nice and supportive and stuff.

So I waited almost the entire year before I got up the courage to raise my hand and answer a question in her class. I was so nervous, I wanted to die, or pee in my pants, or maybe do both! By the time she called on me I was sweating and shaking inside. I couldn’t even remember my name, never mind the question! I gave some dumb answer and she looked at me like I was an idiot. She then rolled her eyes so the whole class could see and made some comment about how I might want to actually do the reading for the class before I tried answering a question. I was totally humiliated. Then a lot of kids started snickering and she just let them! I felt like I was going to throw up! I wanted to run and find a hole that I could crawl into and stay there forever!! So I told myself, NEVER AGAIN!

But then you came along! I don’t know why I trust you coach. You don’t laugh at me. You don’t make fun of me or anyone else. When we screw up, you don’t even get angry or yell! You’re actually patient and stay calm with us. Like what’s with that? When I played last year the coach was always yelling. Heck I never saw him smile! If you made a mistake, he would get so mad, his face would turn beet red and the veins would pop out in his forehead! It totally freaked me out! Then he’d swear at us! He’d let everyone know that you screwed up and then the whole team had to run for your mistake. I hated that cuz then everyone would be mad at you. I could never figure out how that helps you learn from your mistakes.

And then there’s YOU! All you do is try to help us learn the game and do better. You try to figure out what we’re doing wrong. You speak calmly. If you think someone is not getting it, you take the time to help them understand! You don’t make us feel bad about ourselves like my old coach did. You help us feel calm.

Coach, I so desperately want to believe that you like me. I so want to believe that you think I’m OK, that I can learn to play the game and maybe even be good one day. Coach, I badly need you to believe in me because I don’t believe in me! My old coach made me feel like I was an uncoordinated loser who would never amount to anything. I’d often leave practice on the verge of crying. If my coach saw that, I know what he’d call me. Probably a “little girl” or “a pussy!” cuz that’s what he was always calling us! So I never let him see how much I hurt. I didn’t even show my parents because I was so ashamed and afraid he was right! So I waited until I was alone in bed before I cried!

For some reason, I don’t ever worry about you doing that to me! I feel safe around you. That makes me want to cry saying it, but it’s true! You make me feel comfortable and strong, like I can do stuff, like almost anything! You make me want to play even better. You make me want to run even faster and work twice as hard! I want to do it all for you because you inspire me coach! I think you might actually believe in me!

When I leave your practices, I have a smile on my face that lasts the whole day. I don’t want practices to end. You make the game fun! I can’t remember if I ever had fun playing for my old coach! I used to dread his practices and count the minutes until they ended! And his games I hated even more! For some reason, coach would get even madder when we competed. He was always talking about how important winning was and what would happen if we lost and how that would define us as people! You know, the whole thing about “being losers!” I never really understood that!

But not YOU! You make our games a lot of fun, whether we’re winning or losing. Heck, I can’t even remember you talking about winning or losing! When we do well, you make us feel good about ourselves and when we do badly, you encourage and motivate us to keep working hard! I keep waiting for you to morph into my old coach, but you don’t! You keep being you. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for that.

When we lost a game playing for my old coach, he would punish us with windsprints or running the stadium stairs until some of us puked. When we lose a game with you, you just smile and ask us to think about what we need to do differently next game in order to be better. You don’t yell at us! You don’t punish us. And then you break out the ice cream bars and have us laughing and goofing around! Don’t think I’m weird here when I say this coach, but you make my heart want to soar! Like you fill me with hope that I can be somebody!

I don’t know how to explain this, but I get the feeling that you really care about us, all of us, regardless of how good we are. With my old coach, I knew he cared about a few of the really good players cuz he was always nice to them. But not to me or a few of my friends. We weren’t that good, so I guess we weren’t worth caring about. But you treat us all with respect and I really believe that you do care!

So, I’m so sorry that this is so long, but, as you know, I don’t talk much, so there’s a lot pent up inside of me. But I can’t hold this in anymore. I have to tell YOU just how wonderful it feels to have you as my coach! You lift me up! You make me feel like there’s a possibility. That I can go beyond “loser,” that I can dream big and maybe even accomplish BIG things! Just thought you’d want to know. You have made a difference in my life. Thank you for being YOU, coach!


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