Friday, December 4, 2009

Life coach

As the mother of all boys, I cherish the moments I get to spend with girls. Mind you, I am also bugged by little girls. They tend to drive me crazy. I do not have any sisters, so the whole female dynamic is rather mysterious to me. When I step outside and watch the neighborhood girls, I am completely flabbergasted by how catty and downright cruel they can be. So I'll keep my boys.

I'm sure those girls' moms feel the same way about my living, breathing, destructive ping-pong balls I have for children. To each his (and her!) own.

So being a basketball coach means that I get the best of both worlds. My first year, I had one girl on my team who didn't make it through the season. The second year, I had two, and feisty ones at that. It was great.

This year, I have three. Bonus!

I tend to spend a little more energy coaching and refereeing girls. I adhere to the theory that in order to improve the world, we need to improve the lives of women. And what better time to start than when they are little women! That one high five, that one word of encouragement, could start them on the path of self-worth, belief in self, and leadership.

Of course, that doesn't mean I don't coach the boys, and just as hard. But having a woman bust their butt down the court is good for the world, too.

So before our first game of this season I was jazzing my players up. I was pumped and ready to yell for the next hour. I turned to one of the girls and asked, "Are you ready?" It was going to be her first basketball game, ever. And her face was green. Literally. She looked as though she would vomit at any moment. She shook her head.

"I'm so nervous!"

I smiled and assured her, "You're going to be great! I know you can do it."

She did not look assured as she turned to watch the game. I patted her shoulder and hopped down off the bleachers.

Partway through the game, I turned to her and gave her an assignment. She would be point guard. (For those of you unfamiliar, this means she would be dribbling the ball down the court and initiating play with her team.) After I reviewed what her job would be, her eyes grew wide and she shook her head. Again, I reassured her. Be tough, I said.

The referee handed her the ball and she worked her way down the court. She was unsure at first but gained some confidence throughout the quarter. I hoped that I hadn't scarred her by giving her such a responsibility at her first game. The buzzer sounded, and we gathered by the bench.

I was short a couple of players so I had to choose someone to stay in the game. I scanned their faces, trying to make my decision. My gaze settled on this neophyte, her hair sweaty and matted to her bright red cheeks. Her eyes pleaded with me as she huffed,

"Please, please can I stay in? I want to dribble!"

How could I say no? It was moments like these, after all, that define the reason why I coach in the first place.