I have been reflecting on those things I can do better as a coach. One thing keeps coming to mind — I asked a senior on my field hockey team if she was OK. Well, let me rewind a bit……. We the team were struggling. We made a commitment without realizing the enormity of the work involved, without completely taking ownership, and without proper and effective communication amongst ourselves as a team. The school nurtured the ability to circumvent the coach when problems arose to go to the Athletic Director to solve the problems, not for advise to address the problems. As a result, the team imploded.
And one day in practice as I watched my team collide, I asked a senior captain if she was OK, and her response still resonates with me — she was shocked I would ask, because she thought I hated her.
In that moment, I knew I failed her, myself and my team.
As I am reflecting at the end of this year, I keep that lesson in mind. It is not what you know that people remember, but how you make them feel.
Maya Angelou said it best:
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.
FAST FORWARD to the end of 2016: I have not coached a group sport since leaving the field hockey team, to pursue coaching youth for triathlon. I am working with kids, much younger than my field hockey team. Impressionable youth who are seeking approval, regardless of the outcome. Impressionable youth who are seeking to know that you the coach care.
And I am continuing to learn to be open, to be approachable, to be friendly, to speak to the kids, to get at their eye level (I am six feet tall), and to listen.
By asking questions that require more than a yes or no answer, I am nurturing conversation to learn more about the athletes. I am teaching about relationships.
Yes, I want to learn more and expand my skill-sets to teach and coach triathletes of all levels and abilities.
BUT I want to be that coach the athlete is excited to see, wants to work with and is thrilled to share with. I want my office to be buzzing, to be approachable regardless of how I am feeling that day.