Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Today is Your Day

I am not sure whether I am thankful or sad to actually have the time to sit down and write this.  Since my last blog entry over two months ago, it has been non-stop softball and this will be my first week without BGA softball practice or games since early February.  Our season came to an emotional end last week in the first round of the regional play-offs.  We ended the season with a 1-15 record; however, that in no way colors our season which was full of incredible accomplishments.  This team has shown determination, raw talent, and great potential. 

I knew we’d face challenges this year – our team consisted of 13 girls, seven of which were 8th graders.  We only had two seniors, one sophomore, and three freshmen.  Several of the younger girls didn’t even know how to throw a softball or swing a bat.  Our equipment and uniforms had not even been touched in nearly two years, and our locker room was a yoga studio.  However, the joy I have experienced watching these girls grow individually and as a team has far outweighed any difficulties we’ve faced. 

One of the things I enjoyed most was watching these girls look fear in the face and run towards it rather than away from it.  It is very scary to play against much more mature teams who have been playing together for years.  I know it was frustrating to my seniors to lose most every game, but they stuck it out and gave it their best.  It would have been easy for these two girls to enjoy their senior year without playing softball, but they stepped up and led the team with dignity.  I also know it was hard for the younger girls to face opponents much stronger and knowledgeable in the game, but they never gave up.  It would have been easy for the 8th graders to play middle school and enjoy the game without as much pressure (BGA’s middle school team went 8-3 with only 6th & 7th graders).  This team did not let fear stop them and they are better for it. 

I am so thankful for the opportunity to teach these girls about the game of softball and hopefully a little about life as well.  We had many talks about respect and sportsmanship.  One lesson came when several of our opponents used fists rather than an open hand when we shook hands at the end of a game.  The girls and I talked about how we will always respect our opponent – whether we lose 20-0 or we win 20-0.  We also had another lesson when the seniors became quite emotional after a 19-0 loss.  They said things out of anger, which we have all done.  I had to recognize that these were frustrated 18-year-old kids and they simply wanted better.  This has been a very tough and challenging year for all of us in many ways.  I did not blame any girls for having feelings and emotions – teenage girls are going to be emotional.  But I did ask that they respect each other – and that was required by each and every member of this team. 

While we have learned about softball and life, my hope is that they have also come to love the game of softball and gained confidence in life.  Playing a sport fosters self-awareness, self-assurance, and self-belief.  I had many talks with the girls this year about school, tests, boys, girlfriends, family, homework, and beauty.  It was awesome to see that as their confidence on the field grew, so did their confidence off the field.  If you can step into a batter’s box and face a pitcher that has been playing for nearly as long as you’ve been alive, walking up to a lunch table and asking to sit down is no sweat.  When you stand on the field waiting for a ball to be hit at you at 70 mph with nothing but a piece of leather on your hand, taking a biology final is a piece of cake.  When a group of shy, fragile, meek, young girls come together to form relationships and create a strong team, they become less boy-crazy and realize that they complete themselves. 

We can all learn something from this group of girls.  They faced their fears head-on and came out stronger and more confident.  I gave the girls the words to Shania Twain’s song Today is Your Day.  Not only does it reflect our season, but you can use it in your own life. 
You got what it takes you can win
Today is your day to begin
Don't give up here, don't you quit
The moment is now, this is it
Know that you can then you will
Get to the top of the hill
Part of the fun is the climb
You just gotta make up your mind

Whether you want to learn the game of softball or get back in shape and gain confidence, today is your day!  Don’t let fear stand in your way – take that first step – whether it’s onto the field or simply off the couch.  And if you need a coach or a friend to help you do it, go to http://www.coachdconsulting.com and contact me today.