To The Coach Who Tried To Kill My Passion

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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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo And Christian Yelich Have Put Milwaukee Back On The Map

Two small market teams making sure the world knows who they are

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"MVP" is currently being chanted around the city of Milwaukee and the people of Milwaukee aren't just talking about one person. Giannis Antetokounmpo, a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks and Christian Yelich, an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. Giannis is on the path to winning this year's NBA MVP and Yelich, who happened to win the NL MVP last year, is showing no doubts on potentially becoming this year's MVP as well.

Both the Bucks and the Brewers have struggled in the past few years. The Bucks finished their 2013-2014 season with a record of 15-67. On top of that, they have been playing in the BMO Harris Bradley Center for the past couple of decades. The Bradley Center was intentionally built for hockey and not basketball so attending games for the Bucks sometimes had you in the nosebleeds barely seeing what was going on on the court. The Bucks struggled after their 2013-2014 season with records of 41-41 (2014-2015) and 33-49 (2015-2016). Now, the Bucks have recently finished their regular season and moved to the playoffs. From 15-67 just five years ago, to now 60-22 which gave them the best record in the NBA, the number one seed in the East and home-court advantage, Giannis has proved himself as potentially one of the greatest players the NBA and the Bucks franchise will ever see.

The Bucks now have a new arena that opened this season, Fiserv Forum, which is built specifically for the Bucks (and Marquette) instead of hockey. Looking back on the Bucks in their previous years compared to now, the Bucks have sold out every single game this season. Something Milwaukee never thought they would see from being a small market team. From my experience, while working for the Bucks, you can see the difference in the crowd and feel their enthusiasm and excitement radiating off of the fans. And this is all thanks to Mr. Antetokounmpo who is making his mark here in Milwaukee. Giannis has won Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October/November, December, February and March/April and even earned his spot as Eastern Conference captain for the All-Star game this year. Giannis may be considered in his prime right now, but he is only 24-years-old which means he has plenty of time to only make himself better.

The Brewers had won the NL Central Divison back in 2011 but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. After that, they struggled a bit and haven't won the title since until last year in 2018. He brought the Brewers to the NLCS last season, but unfortunately, they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yelich had 36 home runs last season and already has eight (as of 4/16/19) this season. He happens to be a great right fielder as well. In last night's (4/15/19) game against the Cardinals, Yelich alone scored three home runs.

Miller Park has been filling up more and more each game of Brewers fans. Being a small market team like their cross-city friends, the Bucks, bringing home an MVP title as well as a division title, it makes everyone aware of their greatness and dedication. The season may have just started back up again, but there is no doubt, if Yelich and his teammates keep playing like they are right now, they will have another shot of making it to the World Series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Christian Yelich have brought and will continue to bring excitement and greatness to Milwaukee which is something the city hasn't seen in a while. This era of sports will surely be remembered for a long time by the people of Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

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