A touching moment

We finally had our team party for the 2007 season today. Long story on why so late.

In any case, at one point I was talking with the parents of one of the girls from the team. She had to make a tough decision this year — essentially whether to play basketball or softball. Her first love is basketball, so that’s the way she opted. I was sorry to hear that, of course, but each person must follow their own hearts.

The parents stopped to thank me for all I had done for their daughter. You see, when she first joined the team she was struggling a bit athletically. Her parents were well aware that her fine motor skills were not the best, and it’s likely she wasn’t exactly a standout in sports generally. I suppose a lot of coaches would’ve given up on her long ago, or played her whatever the minimum was. But I always saw something in her.

More than anything it was her determination. She always came out and worked hard. Sometimes she’d get frustrated when she couldn’t perform to her expectations. But she’d never quit. Over the years she got better, and has turned into an excellent catcher.

Her defining moment came during a tournament in 2006. With one catcher missing and another injured, we were down to one. On a hot, humid weekend she caught every game Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. We came in second that weekend. The following weekend she caught all but two innings across Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, again in the heat.

Today her parents told me that while they appreciated what I had taught her about softball, their real gratitude was for the self-confidence I had instilled in her. She had gone from a shy girl with a lot of self-doubt to a young lady who believes in herself.

It’s always fun to win tournaments and trophies. But in the big picture, the job of coach is really about impacting lives in a positive manner. It was gratifying to hear I’d actually done that.
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