Well, I kept my promise from my very first blog (I know so many of you were knocking down my door to hear this one). I am going to talk about why I stopped playing the game I love. As I have stated before I had the best basketball coach in the world growing up. However, he was not my only coach. I also had the worst coach in the world. What a nice balance I have had in my life. Going into high school I was more prepared than ever to go into try-outs and make varsity as a freshman. Me, along with two other freshmen, made it. To this day, I wish I had not.
I am happy to have the experience to speak upon now, but I can honestly tell you that it was a horrible experience at the time. I like to think I am a pretty positive person. I know many of you see this ray of sunshine and think, “How could this burst of cotton candy and rainbows ever be sad?” *cue rolling eyes*. But, yes, I was downright miserable. Let me elaborate on why that was.
Freshman year I did not expect to play in any games. I knew I had to pay my dues and hopefully get a chance to show what I had. I had to earn her trust. This coach did everything in her power to make sure that I regressed as a player and she sure as hell succeeded. I went to her on multiple occasions asking what I could improve on because at the time I valued her opinion. She kept coming up with stuff that I could do better. I fixed the problem and once I did she would come up with something else. I get it, I had a lot to work on. But, when someone is just constantly telling you that you are not good enough to even get a chance, it takes a toll on your mental image of yourself. Especially someone who is “supposed” to do the opposite; someone who is supposed to be your “coach”.
Sophomore year, I got to a point where I had proven myself in a game situation, so much so that the parents and spectators came up to me after the game and congratulated me on how well I did in the short time that I played. She even gave me a shoutout in the locker room herself. I finally thought this was my chance, that I earned her trust in me as a player. The next game came around and I sat in the same seat for 4 quarters only standing to cheer for my teammates. I had just done so well in the previous game, why did she not take another chance on me to prove myself further? It made absolutely no sense.
Again, I approached her after practice one day and asked what I could do to be better. I thought I was doing a great job, but of course, she had something to say. “Your body language is just horrible and you need to work on that”. You must be freaking kidding me. My body language? Really? Sorry, my bad, let me sit up a little straighter and stick a corny smile on my face real quick while you continue to rip me apart in practice and sit me for 3 games at a time while I work my butt off for you. Then will you let me do my job as the big bad post player you brought me on the team to be?
I was so frustrated because I knew that she was treating me like this simply because of our lack of connection as coach and player. She did not respect me as a player and it showed in the way she addressed me during practice. She praised one of the other freshmen because of the publicity she brought to our team through our local news. They happened to catch a game where she threw up a sloppy shot and it happened to go in. From then on she was our pig and we had to feed her the ball despite her track record of being a lazy player aside from throwing up outside shots. This coach only cared about how she looked to the public and was shoddy at best. She was political in the way that she let parents suck her into letting their kids play over the rest of us. It was abundantly clear that she didn’t like me for one simple fact; I wouldn’t let her bully me. I would not suck up to her and I would not BS her. I honestly got to the point where I did not respect her because she did not coach for her love of the game or her love for us. She coached because she loved having people who she didn’t even know admire her.
Halfway through my sophomore year season we had already had two players quit because of her incompetence as a coach. I threatened to leave because she stole my love for the game. I would spend hours crying after games and practices and for what? It was not serving my life in the way that it once was and it killed me to come to that conclusion. I finished out the rest of the season because I had thought it was the right thing to do. The day after our season ended I called my coach. I told her that my success as a person was not determined by her and that she had ruined the game for so many people. She should be ashamed for taking away so many players identities and I went on for about 5 minutes telling her that. I might have gone a little overboard, but I was fuming.
I told myself I would not let her ruin the game I loved so much. I became a coach for a youth girls basketball team through my local church and shared my years of knowledge with them. I loved teaching these girls and seeing them succeed through the sport. I saw the passion in their eyes and it brought back the love in mine. I look back at this experience with pride that I had the strength to walk away from something that once brought me joy, but didn’t anymore. I knew that my happiness was so much more important than what this horrible woman thought of me as a person and a player. I refused to let what anther person thought of me determine what I thought of myself. I wanted to be a better coach to young girls than she ever was to me. Never let anyone steal your shine, most of the time they are doing it because of the dullness in their hearts. Be better than that, you never know whose life you might change in the process of standing up for your own light.