I love when things come full circle. I love when life gives you one of those moments that makes you warm on the inside and smile like a kid on Christmas morning. That genuine feeling that people and our world are intrinsically good.
I experienced that tonight.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak at a volleyball banquet. I wanted to share something with the athletes that resonated with them. I wanted to share a story or lesson that might impact their volleyball career and motivate the socks off them.
I thought about all the cliché stories and speeches I heard throughout my athletic career. The more I reminisced, the more I realized that none of the stories about hard work or perseverance really stuck with me. I decided to give those Junior Varsity boys some advice from the heart.
I shared with them the three things I wish I knew and did at their age.
One of those things: I wish I thanked my coaches.
Do not get me wrong. I am sure I thanked my coaches at some point. Probably at the end of season. My team bought a gift, signed a card and maybe sent a message of thanks.
However, I wish I understood at the time what my many coaches were doing for me. I am not sure I fully appreciated the time and energy that my coaches took away from their own lives, families and hobbies to invest in my future. I did not understand how selfless coaching is. I felt as an athlete, I was entitled to a coach. I took them for granted.
I become overwhelmed with gratitude when I think about all the people who helped mold me into the person, player and coach I am today. It was a privilege to have each and every one of them.
The saddest reality I see as a coach today is kids without one. How unfair is that? I wish I could give every kid the opportunity to try. I wish I could create endless possibilities for kids to excel in sports like I was given.
I always had a coach and the majority of them were above average.
I did not realize at the time how lucky I was.
To all the athletes out there who have a coach. Whether he or she is a former National team coach or somebody's parent. Appreciate them and thank them. You're fortunate.
From my absolute favorite coaches that I had tremendous success with, to my least favorite coaches that tore me down as a player. I should have thanked them all.
So here it is...
To my favorite coaches, thank you. Thank you for believing in me when I did not even believe in myself. Thank you for insuring that I had all the tools I needed to be successful on and off the court. Thank you for giving me the confidence to push my mind and body to places I never thought possible. Thank you for all my greatest memories and most cherished experiences. Without you, my life would be drastically different.
To my not-so-favorite coaches, thank you. Thank you for teaching me how to NOT take things personal. Thank you for teaching me how to get myself back up time after time. Thank you for teaching me how to have mental strength. Thank you for the challenge. Thank you for exposing my weaknesses. A huge thanks go to you, because without you I would not be the person I am today.
For all the coaches in between, thank you. Thank you for giving me confidence as a female athlete. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion for sport with me. Thank you for providing me a place to compete. Thank you for being a teacher of the game, mentor and my guiding light. Thank you for the impact you had on my athletic career, however big or small.
Today, I received my first personal thank you message from a player I coached this season. I appreciate it more than she knows. She said things to me that I wish I said to my coaches. For that I am thankful, grateful and inspired.
As a person, player and coach - thank you.