Grace made the travel basketball squad this year. It is a team of just ten girls who are deemed good enough to compete at this level. It was a HUGE honor for her. She started off the season strong and earned a spot as a starter. Another HUGE honor. She has not had good coaching in basketball so her inexperience showed to some degree on the court. This led to her being unfairly benched. It was ugly and unfair. It killed her self-esteem for a few weeks. After a tricky round of conversations with her coach things are on the upswing.
What all of this brought about for me was the power that sports can have in the lives of kids who view themselves as athletes. I coach more than one sport in our town and I see my job as a coach to first build the kids up and second to teach them a sport. Unfortunately not all of our coaches see it this way. Too often I am watching the goals look more like first, win and second, make sure the status quo of politics is in order. It's sometimes tough to watch.
I am partly writing this as a catharsis opportunity for myself, but also because I am sure there are a million Grace's out there who see themselves as athletes. A large part of their identity, and therefore self-esteem is tied into her sports. It's nothing something we taught or even encouraged, it's just her. So, now we as parents are tasked to give her the opportunity she needs to succeed in sports so she can develop a positive self-view. Those of us who were given athletically gifted kids to foster this in them. It's part of their development. And even more importantly, those of us who coach must remember that we are training not just athletes, but developing children.