Today marked my very last practice of my first season as a club volleyball coach. When I decided to take this coaching position in October of last year, I honestly just wanted to do something to keep up with volleyball and see how I liked it. I had no idea how much it would impact me and help me grow as an individual. I originally was told that I would be coaching 11 year-olds, but a little while later, they asked me if I would be okay coaching 16s. I was a little reluctant at first because I was only 19 for the majority of the season, so the age difference wasn’t very large and I remember being a sophomore in high school and one word comes to mind – drama. But after some thought, I figured why not and I’m so thankful I did because as the season went on I realized that my coaching style is catered to older girls. Besides, coaching is just coaching right? Wrong. Coaching is so much more than than teaching the girls how to zone serve or how to wait on their approach. Coaching is also about teaching a group of 9 girls what it means to be on a team and how to work together toward a common goal. In the process of teaching them, however, they were able to teach me. Here are 5 things I’ve learned through coaching.
1. I am responsible
The night before a tournament, I had formal for my sorority. It’s not that I couldn’t have gone, but one way or another I had to be awake at 530AM the next morning and be prepared to coach until 5 or 6PM that night. So yes, I could have gone to formal and just got up early and dealt with it, but I know that I would have been miserable, tired and simply not my best coaching self, so I decided to skip out on formal to get a good night’s sleep. It wasn’t easy, but I know I made the right choice.
2. Everyone is dealing with something
Not getting into much detail because of the privacy of my players, but I had to deal with some real life problems over the course of the season. Some of my girls were and still are going through some really tough stuff, and I had to handle it as an adult and a professional. I did my best to allow volleyball to be an outlet and a safe place for these girls to just de-stress and have fun without thinking about all of the craziness that is going on around them.
3. Staying in a hotel room is a right of passage into adulthood
For our two-day overnight tournament in Louisville, our team stayed in a hotel room on Saturday night, and obviously, I had my own room. I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but it actually was pretty awesome. I really felt like an adult and got the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time because hello… giant queen bed and a billion pillows all to myself. It honestly felt like one of the first adult-y things I’ve ever had to do.
4. I would do anything to be able to go back and play another season of club
Coaching and playing are two totally different things. Volleyball has always been and will always be near and dear to my heart, and it’s a keystone characteristic of what holds my own family together. However, there is no better feeling than actually playing volleyball on a consistent team and getting to travel all over the place for tournaments. Nothing can beat it, and I really, truly miss playing.
5. I make mistakes
The final, and perhaps the most important, lesson I learned is that I make mistakes. You may be thinking well, duh, everybody makes mistakes, and of course, I know that but I just felt like this was the first time that my mistakes were in the spotlight. As a coach, you’re it. You’re in charge, and with it being my first time coaching, I certainly tried my best but I know there were some things I could have done a little better. However, if no mistakes are made, what’s there to learn? The mistakes helped me grow, and now I know that next time I’ll be better.
Here’s a super awesome picture of the team from today (our last practice). Sorry we look so sweaty and gross – clearly we were working hard. Can you find me?! I’m in the back row third from the right, and my assistant coach, Lily, is in the orange.
Unfortunately, with the stress of an even more grueling school schedule next year, I don’t think I will have the time to coach until after I graduate. I’m so lucky to have been given this opportunity, and I know that as soon as I am able, I will be right back at it.
Coaching has given me a brand new perspective on who I want to be as a person, and although it might seem silly to some, it meant a whole lot to me.
Until next time…
PS – I’m a offically a ‘twenty-something’ blogger 😀
PSS – I leave for Spain in 22 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀
Be sure to follow Summer in Segovia, my study abroad blog, HERE.