Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Being Coached

I never had a coach in the traditional sense of the word. I never played competitive sports. I was on the debate team, but I never got any real coaching tips from the adult advisor. I did, however, letter in debate and I’ve got the nerdy letter sweater to prove it. Yeah, I was a total geek.

Who are we kidding? I’m still a total geek.

A couple things have happened in the last couple days that made me truly appreciate having a coach.

The first thing happened this weekend. Fresh Meat Mama Biz announced to the Derby league that our Fresh Meat group has now achieved Rookie status.

I fully intend to do the Fresh Meat training again. I need to be a better skater before I can feel comfortable even calling myself a Rookie. But with the lessons taught by Biz and Fresh Meat Aunties Jane and Nina--combined with the extra practice and encouragement by the rest of the league--I am slowly improving. I know I’ve worked hard, but I couldn’t have gotten anywhere without being coached.

Here is what a nerd I am: I bought a book on how to train for Derby. I literally read up on how to do a T-stop. But reading every Googled description of the T-stop cannot give me the same amount of know-how and skill that five minutes with one of these awesome ladies can provide to me.

I needed to call on my second coach this morning. This one was my parenting coach. My precocious son called me from school complaining that he got hit in the head during PE. He said he had a headache and blurry vision. Two thoughts ran simultaneously through my mind: “Oh great, another concussion” and “He is just trying to get out of school.”

I was very frustrated as I drove him to the Instacare clinic. There was no knot on his head, no bruise, no visible sign of injury. And this kid has a history of suddenly becoming ill when school gets a little boring. He has cried wolf once or twice. But I took him to the clinic, where I paid $50 for him to get an Advil and a printout about concussions. Better safe than sorry. But there goes the money I put aside for his new karate uniform.

I texted my frustration to my Sister MSW, who is my Masters of Social Work sister and my go-to parenting coach. She reminded me that my kid was super smart. We so often think of him as so mature that we are shocked when he acts like a 9-year-old. She coached me through the conversation I need to have with him tonight.

When I think about the people that have most influenced me in my life, I come up with a list of teachers. And really, isn’t that exactly what a coach is? I think of my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Aaron, who knew I was bored with the school assignments and would slip me handouts about Algebra, the rainforest, or the periodic table. High school English teacher Mrs. Harrison was the first person to tell me that I was a good writer and encouraged me to work for the school literary magazine. My favorite college professor Fred Fogo told me to stop taking the easy assignments for the campus newspaper and challenged me to work harder.

And I think of Biz, Jane, and Nina. Their ability to push me to do better while simultaneously allowing me to go at my own pace was exactly what I need. Sister MSW reminds me that kids will be kids.

Thank you to all my coaches. Especially Biz, Jane, and Nina, who are helping making this derby dream come true.

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