I recently started coaching volleyball to the girls at the therapeutic boarding school in which I work. Most of the girls have never played volleyball, or even been part of a team. I was quite nervous when I first started coaching, but now our practices are filled with inspirational moments in which I find myself taking little mental pictures that I will cherish forever.
I wish I could adequately express how inspirational the girls are to me. They are so personally invested in practice, that I cringe when it is time for them to leave for the day. From day one, I have pushed their limits and challenged their minds and bodies. I can tell by their glistening foreheads and panting chests that they are not used to the exercise or the challenges I give them. However, the smiles that remain on their faces and the intensity in their eyes convey how much they appreciate the opportunity to grow. Sports is about so much more than the physical growth one gains in a season. It is about perseverance, intensity, leadership, and self-confidence. Each one of these girls exhibits these qualities and their exuberance truly is a breath of fresh air!
I have never once heard one of the girls complain during my practice. They are engaged, devoted and eager to soak up as much knowledge and experience as possible. As they leave the gym each practice, they thank me for taking the time to teach them and to push them (mental pictures).
The first day of practice, I had the girls complete suicides (a running drill), except they had to do leap frogs on the way back. One of the girls, who is new to the program, had just 3 jumps left and she was the last to finish. She started walking and said that she couldn't do anymore. I had her go back to where she had quit and I cheered her on as she finished. After practice, she sincerely thanked me for encouraging her to finish (mental picture).
I have another girl who is really soft-spoken and dainty. One of the most crucial aspects of volleyball is communication and the girls are to call each ball that comes to them. This particular girl seems to whisper "mine" each time she receives a pass. I have been trying to get her to release her inner tiger. The other day in practice, I stood next to her and called her ball....MINE!!!! It scared the wits out of her (mental picture)! Since then, she is much more vocal.
Each one of the girls is amazing in their own way. I have one athlete who has been a bully to some of the girls in the past. She has completely transformed on the court and today, the girls voted her team captain. I have another girl who is in my English class. Before we stared the season, she was disengaged and disrespectful. Now that she is part of the team, she is enthusiastic and involved. I am certain this is a direct result of her exemplary attitude on the court.
I am so excited for the rest of this season. I am so grateful for the wonderful example the girls are for me. They are truly an inspiration.