I realize more and more each day that we can learn so much from God’s little creations, whether it be a small child or one of our small feathered friends. Take Nicole, for example. Her mom reached out to me last year. She said Nicole really wanted to be on the Queens Grant Middle School Team this year. She would be in the 6th grade. That was great news to me! As the Middle School Coach, it’s wonderful to have kids start in the 6th grade. It helps strengthen the team in a few years! Nicole started taking lessons from Coach Tim, Coach Debbie and myself in September, 2016. She’s a wee bit of a girl with lots of spunk. But let’s face it, she really struggled and struggled just to make contact with the ball.
When tryouts came in February, 2017, Nicole was all gung-ho, but a bit nervous. On the day before the official team roster announcement was made, I privately told her to chill. ” I have a No-Cut Policy. Everyone makes the team!” She stopped in her tracks and her face lit up. Then came the day her cute uniform was issued. She was proud as a peacock!
After several days of tough practice though, she and I hit a brick wall. I asked her to do something and she said she couldn’t do it. I basically told her that as her coach, I saw some changes she needed to make. If she wasn’t going to try, I couldn’t coach her. “Nicole, you can just keep doing it your way if you want. But when you’re ready to accept my coaching, I believe you’ll be able to start flying around the court like your team mates, and start hitting balls across the net,” I told her. I didn’t literally set her on the bench, only figuratively.
Last week a small bird helped me understand not only what was going on with Nicole, but what happens to me a lot! I was sitting in my big chair, Bible in my lap, teapot under it’s cozy and my grandma china tea cup was in my hand, when I heard a loud thud. “Oh no!” I thought. “Not again! Let me ease up out of my chair and go check out the damage.”
I opened the sliding glass door and there it was, under the back porch table. Little birds and big birds have misjudged their flight patterns, abruptly knocking themselves out when they run into our sliding glass door. Sometimes they make it and sometimes they don’t. This one sat there on his feet, stunned, with his mouth open widely and didn’t move when I touched him gently. I really thought this may be his only flight but I decided to leave him alone for awhile.
Here’s where Nicole was – On the bench. Couldn’t move forward. Wouldn’t listen. Wasn’t willing to believe that she could do what was being asked of her. And I can totally relate with many situations I find myself in whether it’s improving my backhand shots, learning how to take good pictures and videos, or maintaining my running routine. The main question is: Why Do We Find Ourselves Paralyzed? Could it be unwillingness, lack of self-esteem, lack of energy or perhaps complacency? It could be any one, all or some other reason. Regardless, there we sit. Stunned, and not able to move forward!
Until we recognize that’s where we are, that’s where we stay!
About a week after Nicole & I came to our agreement, she humbly came to me and said “Coach Flo, I changed my mind. I want you to help me.” I asked her what made her change her mind. She said, “I’ve been watching the other players that just started on the team and they’re all getting better. And I want to get better too!”
Just like my little birdie friend, who sat for awhile, collected his composure and flew away, Nicole paused, analyzed her options and is now learning to fly! In the last match she played, she returned multiple shots and made some points. And I myself have signed up for some Adult Tennis Clinics to improve my backhand shots and I’m working with a Coach to improve my photography and marketing skills. As far as the running program; check in with me later. I can’t seem to get off the bench to get that going again!
I believe we all come to places throughout our lives that seem like roadblocks. It takes patience with ourselves as we discover the reasons why we’re at a standstill. As coaches, with kindness and compassion, we seek to help each player as they progress with their tennis game. Whether it’s your child who is 3 years old or you, who are 65 years young, together we can learn to fly!