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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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Figure Skating Is A Mental Game

Being a competitive athlete, there's many downs but there are moments where it's worth while.

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I feel so anxious that it feels like someone is constantly breathing down my neck. My heart is beating at 100 mph. My insides are tightening up and my palms are sweaty. My legs are frozen to a point where they are numb. The smell of hairspray and the taste of red lipstick lingers. The feeling of the ice against my blades is music to my ears. I tied my skates multiple times so it feels perfect. I keep moving to keep warm.

"Am I supposed to feel this way?".

"It's okay to feel this way, it's normal. I would be concerned if you didn't. Nevertheless, I believe in you. You have worked so hard for this".

"I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, right now. If I don't do well, I failed everyone even myself".

"Don't think like that, you have prepared yourself well and you should have faith in yourself also. No matter what happens today, you should be proud of what you have accomplished in over the years you have skated. This is a lesson in life. If something knocks you down seven times, you get up eight times. That's what this sport has taught you. You are stronger than you think. This is your passion so let go of all of reality now and skate for yourself. Show everyone what you can do, this is your moment".

"Thank you, for everything".

She's right, you are stronger than you think. This is a mental game. If you tear yourself down, you're going to go down. Focus, you have to focus. As she said, you love this sport, the adrenaline and the feeling of being powerful. For once, you actually feel beautiful. Never mind that, but you are beautiful. Outside and in, and beautiful to watch. Skating is my escape from reality which is everything that I don't want, what I don't need. The pressure of being perfect, the mental breakdowns, the fear of failure, and the fear of getting hurt. Anything can happen within any moment but it's a risk that's worth taking.

Just forget it, there's no need to keep dwelling on the things that you can't change. This, right now, is all about you. This is your moment. Take it and never let go.

"And our next skater representing the Summit Figure Skating Club of North Carolina, Jessica Tran".

"Alright, do it to it".

I went out with a smile, the crowd cheering me on as I am getting ready to start my program.

"Breathe, take a deep breath. You got this, trust yourself".

As soon as I stood right in front of the judges, I was ready. The music began, filling the rink with a sudden shock. I turned on my character, my determination, and my love for skating.

Once the music stopped, everything stopped. It went by so fast that all I could really remember was the moment I finished. The heavy breathing, the sore arms, and weak legs. With a huge smile, I bowed to the judges and then to the crowd. I did it. I didn't care about the small mistakes that I did. I didn't care that I landed a difficult element. I didn't care that I fell on the easiest thing that I could do. All that mattered was the fact that I kept going. At the end of the day, medal or not, I'm still a winner.

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