The Coach Who Changed My Life

The Coach Who Changed My Life

"I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth." -Lou Gehrig
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no, Life works in mysterious ways. Whether by sheer luck or simply intertwined fate, we all have that one person who enters our life and changes it in ways that we cannot possibly have foreseen. I met this man when I was just seven years old; my very first wrestling coach: Wilbur Borrero.

I remember attending my first wrestling camp nearly 12 years ago, which was being held at my future high school. Meeting him for the first time was like meeting a giant from my viewpoint. He had silvery grey hair, a nearly bone-crushing handshake, and a booming voice that echoed off the walls like a thunderstorm. To be honest, I was a little scared of him at first. But, as the practice rolled on, I decided that his bark was worse than his bite. Across the span of just three days, his instruction took me from a curious spectator, to a fanatic participant.

Coach wanted me to start on the varsity team right away. At first I was shocked and didn't know what to think. But, I decided that there must be a reason for his confidence and I accepted his challenge.

In youth wrestling, I usually made good jumps in skill each year. In high school, coach Borrero transformed and refined my abilities to take me from a wrestler with potential, to a wrestler who could contend for a state championship. In this time, he taught me how to work hard, make sacrifice, and lead a team.

Coach Borrero has a marvelous ability to integrate fun into an otherwise grueling practice. He makes you want to work hard and become not just the best wrestler you can, but also the best person as well. His philosophy advocates "family first, education second, and sports third." This principle has stuck with me since the very first time I heard it all those years ago. Across the time that he trained me, our relationship grew closer and tighter. By the end of my senior year, he had become like a second father to me. I came to value and respect everything about the man who I had come to revere.

Coach Borreo's training prepared me for not only my opponents on the mat, but also the opponents and obstacles I will face throughout my life. And I will be eternally grateful for everything he has done for me. He's been there for me at some of my highest and lowest points, he's been there to give me a laugh, and of course he's always been there to kick my ass when need be.

As I age, I aspire to be everything that he is, and hope to continue to make him proud. Without his help, I could not have become the athlete and man that I am today. Thank you coach Borrero. Thank you for changing my life.

Cover Image Credit: Frank Dlugopolski

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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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What It Is Really Like Going To An All-Girl High School

"How did you survive?" That's the question I have to answer after I tell people I went to a Catholic all-girls high school. I did more than survive in high school; I loved it.

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Don't get me wrong, my high school freshman orientation was HORRIBLE. I absolutely dreaded going to school with all girls for four years. I didn't know much about high school at 14 but I did know a couple of things for sure; girls were MEAN and being friends with boys meant you had a social life.

So to be putting myself in this position felt like a recipe for disaster. However, as the first couple of months went by, I came to love my school and the environment it provided me with. Here are a few things I learned along the way.

Uniforms 

Here is a snapshot of my typical high school morning: Wake up at 7:30, roll out of bed and throw on my uniform while putting my hair into a bun by 7:45, Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru at 7:50, be in class by the 8:00 bell. Amazing, right? It took absolutely no effort to get ready in the mornings, not only because I had a uniform, but I also didn't have to do hair or makeup.

Who was I impressing? No one. My biggest decision in the morning was whether to wear a navy or white polo shirt with my red plaid skirt and white socks. Now that I'm in college, I truly appreciate the concept of uniforms in high school as I struggle to find clothes to wear every day.

The Learning Environment 

Have you ever been hesitant to speak out in class because there multiple obnoxious boys across the room? It's happened to every girl I know at some point in her life. When your in a classroom with all women that you have a genuine want to be present in class, there is a noticeable difference in the nature of that class and how learning takes place. There were never any distractions during lectures and all my peers were fully engaged in their school work.

Social Life

I swore my social life was going to go down the drain after starting high school. Contrary, my school and social life balance couldn't have been better. I was able to make my social life exactly what I wanted it to be on my own time. We were an affiliate for an all-boys brother school that held events for us like football games and dances. I met many of my lifelong guy friends during these times.

Friendships

When you spend almost every day of four years with all girls, you get to develop a strong sense of respect for women. Friendships you build in an environment like this are based a raw connection excluding looks and social status. The bonding between my high school friends hasn't begun to compare to the friendships I've made since then.

I would recommend going to an all-girls school at any stage of life, as I strongly believe it prepared me to take on my future as the strongest women I could possibly be.

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