What I Forgot To Tell My High School Coach
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What I Forgot To Tell My High School Coach

A long overdue thank you.

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What I Forgot To Tell My High School Coach
Sarah MacIntosh

It seems like just yesterday the adrenaline was coursing through my veins before going out on the gymnasium floor. I would always wipe my sweaty palms on my pleated skirt and take a deep breath before stepping into motion to go in front of the crowd with my teammates. Three days max of practice in between each game we would perform at. Twelve girls I spent every day with. A coach who knew we could do it and didn't expect anything less. 5...6...7...8.....

It's been quite some time since I graduated high school, even though some days it feels as though it were just yesterday I was in that gymnasium. I'll be graduating college soon and beginning my life as an adult in this great big society, and I can't help but reflect on these days. These days helped shaped me into who I am. The woman who coached me helped make me who I am.

I'm not sure I had thanked you for all that you did for me when you were my coach. I'm not a cheerleader anymore, but you taught me so much more than just cheerleading.

Thank you for pushing me to my limit.

I hated running a mile at the beginning of practice every day, but I grew to need it. You knew that in order for us to develop the mindset of serious athletes and members of society, we needed to be taught discipline. We needed to do things we didn't want to do. We needed to strengthen our bodies and our characters. Thank you for never giving us "off days" or "cheat days", and making us push ourselves every day that you coached us. I have taken this with me in the sense that I never stop pushing myself. I always test my limits, and I know this is something derived from your coaching.

Thank you for making us work.

The prettiest girl on the team wasn't sent to the front of the formation and neither was the shortest. The girls who worked the hardest earned the front row. Gazing up at the older girls on Varsity when I first began cheerleading in the summer of eighth grade, I knew I wanted to be that girl. I wanted to be the girl who worked the hardest and made her way to the front. You made it clear that in order to be a member of the team, we had to dedicate and push ourselves. Every day of my life, I know that things are not handed to me, but rather given to those who work the hardest for it. Thank you for teaching me this.

Thank you for giving us a structured escape.

Not all of us had perfect home lives, and some of us got bullied at school. But in that gym every weeknight we were all equal. You made it clear to us that who we were at school or at home did not determine who we were there. In that gymnasium, we were teammates, and you were our leader. When one of us became narcissistic you would tell us all to look in the mirror before judging one another. In that gymnasium, what was going on at home didn't matter, and what was going on at school didn't matter.You gave some of us a parent that we needed. You gave us structure that some of us wouldn't have had otherwise. You gave us an escape.

Thank you for keeping us modest.

We weren't allowed to wear outlandish makeup, swear, go to parties, or "sit on our boyfriend's laps" during games like all the other sport's teams could. We weren't allowed to post pictures on social media in our uniforms or gossip during games. Our skirts nearly came down to our knees and we wore turtlenecks under our vests. Some of these standards I went all through high school without understanding the purpose of, but as I grow older, I understand. You refused to allow us to dissolve into the stigma surrounding cheerleaders and the sport of cheerleading. You made sure our peers would not look at us every game and see cake-faced bozos in short skirts, but rather hard-working, respectable athletes. You told us we had a lot of people who wanted to laugh at us and to make sure they didn't have a reason to. This is a lesson I have taken with me everywhere I go. I will never dissolve into a stigma based on the way I look, but rather I will exist based on the content of my character and what I have to offer.

Thank you for doing it all unapologetically.

Not only did you teach us discipline, but you taught us how to be unapologetically proud. In being unapologetic yourself, you taught us confidence and poise. You never let us make excuses for our shortcomings, but rather required us to own up to them and improve. This is one of the most important lessons I have received from you. If there is an instance in which I'm incapable, I improve rather than sulk in self-pity. I am unapologetic myself.

You taught me so much more than just a sport and I'm grateful every day that I was blessed to have had you guide me for four years. There are so many more things I have to thank you for. But, first and foremost, thank you for being my coach.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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