To The Coach Who Saved Me
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Sports

To The Coach Who Saved Me

For everything you've done for this sport and for me, Thank you!

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To The Coach Who Saved Me

Dear Coach,

You may not know this, but you saved me, and we both know I wasn't the only one you saved on that team. You came in my junior year; you were there for some of the most difficult parts of my life and kept me going. I don't know how much of this you already know, but I'm going to explain how I got to the place I was in when we met.

Being a college athlete was much harder than I ever expected. I wasn't naive enough to assume that I would come in as a freshman player and start every game and be this amazing rockstar, but I also didn't expect to go entire games without touching the field. I had been the captain on almost every team I had been on up to this point, and to not get regular or significant minutes was a huge blow to my confidence.

The lack of playtime combined with a coach I disagreed with both tactically and semi-personally in regards to how he coached us, made me begin to hate my sport for the first time in my life. After the season ended I wanted to quit, but in all honesty, I was too afraid to tell him, and my sport was my life. I didn't know who I would be if I wasn't an athlete.

I stuck it out for another year and then after that season I finally decided I needed a change. I wanted something new, I wasn't quitting but I had to try to remember what I loved about being an athlete.

That first year was a struggle, I was a good enough athlete that I could get by not knowing what I was doing. I was starting games, and doing well but I had no idea what I was doing or why I was doing it. I made it through the season relatively unscathed. And then the school started the search for a new coach. That's where you came in.

You came in and completely revamped the program in the following two years. We went from, basically, a hodgepodge group of girls trying to run our own team, to having direction and great leadership. But as much as I learned from you about being an athlete I learned even more about being a person.

I went through some tough times while you were my coach, from my first heartbreak to many existential crises over graduating, and I knew if I ever needed anything I could come to you and you would give me the advice I needed. Or you would just let me sit in your office to avoid being alone.

The team always joked I was your favorite, I don't think that was true, but I think we had a mutual respect for each other and the game--on top of the fact that we just got along with each other. With your support I was able to not only survive but thrive during my last years of college when I wasn't always sure I would finish.

Your support didn't end after graduation either. I still know you are only a phone call or text away and that you will still give me the advice I need. Even when it takes more than just telling me "you don't love them, break up with them already."

You showed me that I wasn't just an athlete. That I could be and do more. You shared your past with us and made me realize that I was lucky to be an athlete, but more than that, it proved that life doesn't actually end after that final whistle blows--even though it feels like it in the moment. Life goes on, and so do we. Embrace the Sh*t. I learned that from you. When life gets particularly hard I remember that and things start to look brighter.

I became a coach in part due to you. I want to have the same effect on some young girl that you did on me. I want to show them that yes, our sport is important but that it isn't our entire lives. I want to grow this sport as you have. I want to give back to the sport that you taught me to love.

From that first meeting with us to now, you've become more than a coach, you are my mentor, and my friend. Without you I am not sure where or who I would be today.

For everything you do for all of your athletes, and especially for me, thank you, we love you, and we will never forget the lessons you have taught us.

With all my love and gratitude,

Caitlin

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