To The Coach Who Tried To Kill My Passion, I Don't Let Bullies Win

To The Coach Who Tried To Kill My Passion, I Don't Let Bullies Win

I thought people were supposed to improve over time. Five years later and you are just as much of a bully.

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Growing up, I tried out so many different sports. Basketball. Baseball. Soccer. Track. I liked them, I truly did, but I did not love any of them. It was not until the 6th grade that I found my true passion, volleyball, all because my friends invited me to a YMCA open gym thing. From then until senior year of high school, I lived and breathed volleyball. Instead of dividing my year up by the four seasons, I divided it up by the volleyball seasons — school season, club season, and camp season. Every night I would be practicing or playing until 9 or 10 in the evening and would stay up into the middle of the night to finish my homework.

It was tiring, but it was so worth it.

Every time that I stepped onto the court, it was like I was an entirely different person. All of the thoughts rushing through my head stopped and I just played. I raced around the court diving after ever spike, jumping up to the net to block a hit, and chasing after shanked balls. One time, I had one of my teachers come up to me after the game telling me that, while I was kind of quiet in the classroom, I became an absolute animal on the court.

I was a good player. I was not the best player ever, but I was a very talented player. I worked hard and, well, it paid off. Volleyball was a giant sector of my life.

I have had numerous coaches throughout my years of playing volleyball — school coaches, club coaches, and private coaches. Many of the coaches I had helped further my passion for the game. They would spend their time improving our techniques, focusing both on improving us as players as well as an entire team. These coaches focused on the positive aspects of a player and saw mess-ups as room for improvement instead of as a lack of talent. I still remember one of my very first varsity practices during my sophomore year of high school where, in front of the entire team after practice, my coach told me that I had the most passion and hustle on the entire team.

With the good always comes the bad, that is just the balance of the world. However, there is one coach in particular who almost ruined the entire sport for me. To them, I want to say this:

You tried to ruin me. You tried so hard. You played favorites and I was never one of them. Even when I was co-captain my senior year, you gave me no rights, not respect, and no opinion. Instead, you listened to your favorites who were more focused on partying and less focused on the workouts I was trying to run. Every time we had a game, I would have players and people in the stands asking me why I was sitting on the sidelines instead of playing. I would come home after practices and games crying why I was never the chosen one; why I was never good enough.
You tried to strip me of my self-worth.
You tried to make me think I was useless.
Just because I was trying to be a player and not have a friendship, you automatically hated me. I am not saying friendships are a bad thing, but the ones you formed were inappropriate. After the school season ended junior year, I thought I was broken. I was dreading going to my club tryouts, all because of you. Luckily, I met two amazing coaches who re-lit my passion for the game. The passion you tried to eliminate.
Your absolute goal was to drive me down; their absolute goal was to build me back up again. I prayed that you would get better, but you have not. You still bully my sister the same way that you bullied me. I am trying to teach her that her self-worth and abilities do not depend on what you say, the very same thing that my parents and other coaches had to teach me five years ago. It is one thing to treat me poorly, but it is another thing to treat my little sister poorly. I wish I could tell you in person everything I am thinking, but I hope instead you get a chance to read this. I am not thankful for the pain that you put me and others through, but I am thankful that I learned that your opinion does not define me.

Sports should not be a "political" game. They should not be about playing favorites. Sports should be about improving each individual player and optimizing upon their abilities. They should be about playing the players correctly in order to have winning games and, thus, a winning season. Sports should be fun, they should not be dreaded.

If you have a coach who is draining you of your passion, just remember this: your abilities and your self-worth does not depend on what other people think of you. It especially does not depend on what a bully thinks of you.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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The Warriors' Fans May Need To Be Concerned About Stephen Curry

The six-time All-Star point guard's PPG has dipped over the past few games.

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The Golden State Warriors have been the most dominant NBA team over the past five years. They have claimed three NBA championships in the past four seasons and look to pull off a three-peat as they currently hold first place in the Western Conference more than halfway into the 2018-2019 NBA season. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has been one of the primary reasons for their sustained success and is regarded by many around the NBA as the greatest shooter of all time and one of the best point guards in the league today. However, his points per game (PPG) total has dipped over the last few games. Should this be concerning for Warriors fans?

Curry got off to a hot streak early in the season and has had a few notable games like every season. He scored 51 points in three quarters while tallying 11 three-pointers against the Washington Wizards in the fifth game of the season and has delivered in the clutch with high-scoring games against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 23, 2018 (42 PTS) and Dallas Mavericks on January 13, 2019 (48 PTS).

However, Curry's consistency and point total have slipped over the past few games. He only put up 14 points and had a generally sloppy three-point shooting performance against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 2, and only 19 points four days later against the San Antonio Spurs, who were resting two of their best players, Demar Derozan and Lamarcus Aldridge due to load management. In addition, he only managed 20 points against a hapless Phoenix Suns team who made an expected cakewalk win for Golden State much harder than it should have been.

Perhaps Curry's numbers have dipped because he is still adjusting to having center Demarcus Cousins in the offense, or maybe I am simply exaggerating because Curry's standards are so high. The Warriors have won fifteen of their last sixteen games and are currently in cruise control heading for the top seed in the Western Conference. Perhaps the Warriors will ask more of Curry if the situation gets direr.

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