To the coach that never believed in me:
You taught me lessons that will stand the test of time. You showed me exactly where I should go with my life. And you told me to never give up. All of the times you said I was great, I would succeed, and that I was a leader were all lies that built up to create the biggest one of all: you believed in me.
I grew up with a ball in every room of my house (yes, even the bathrooms) since I was four. That was all that was on my mind. In school, at home, and every place in between, I could not get my mind off of the next time I would be on that field. I would imagine every touch on the ball because seeing the possibility turned it into a reality on game day. I would fall asleep at night dreaming of the goals I could score and the smile on your face that we just achieved the highest level of success: victory.
This “game” that I would play was more than just Saturday mornings. It was a way of life and a group of the most incredible people I could have ever asked for, starting with you. Little did you know that even while you didn’t believe in me, I hung on every word you said. I believed that you would lead us to great things. I believed that you would demonstrate how to be a better player and a better person. I believed that you had the keys I needed to unlock the next level of this “game”. I believed in you. The reality of the situation is that I was the leader that you never were, even though you pretended to be.
It is because of you that I never quit. It was always one more sprint, one more core series, or one more shot because that was the difference between those who won and those who lost. I didn’t care if others quit on me because they didn't understand or they didn't care to see the passion I had for this game. I knew that quitting was not an option. I was not allowed to give up, even when my skin turned different colors, even when my white jersey was bloodied to red, and even when others made it easy to walk away. I never quit. The difference here is while I never gave up on you, you gave up on me. That was the painful truth of the situation. That is what kept me up at night for weeks. That is what drove me to where I am today because quitting is still not an option.
I know exactly where I am supposed to be today because of you. You were the one who launched me on the career path for which there is no other option but pure victory. I am here because of you. I am here to protect athletes from the toxic ways of your lies. I am here to be the sideline mom many have lost due to your never-ending schedules filled with hundred degree weekends and frost-bitten toes. I am here to be a light for the athletes that you only show darkness to. No, I am not God and do not pretend to be. But I am a light that shows them the world is not filled entirely with people like you. There is more to life than this game that has consumed me. Others may not see it now, but there is always someone who is on their side. No one else may understand how painful this process is, the only way to succeed is to stand back up and charge towards victory; no matter how many times you may be knocked down.