Find Your Program Here

May 27, 2016

“Coach, I’ll be better next time.”

“Coach, I’ll be better next time.”

FIRE UP FRIDAY – I’d like to thank the dad who was sitting in the mezzanine last night when I was a sub at a Boost workout. He kept one eye on me, then back to his book, then one eye on me and the group of kids – five boys, one girl. The girl was his daughter. I did not know it nor did I care.

I tapped Coach Andy out around the halfway mark, due to a last-minute conflict, and told the kids we were going with a new theme – toughness all the way. We started with a bunch of ball-handling drills and we added some running to prove you should be able to handle when tired. I could see the one girl, we’ll call A, age 10, was nervous and not pushing and I bet she was going to react to me. But when she burst into a complete wailing cry, sobbing and then holding her breath, I realized I was going to have to work triple to make this all work for everyone and get her back into the session. She burst into tears, and ran out the door.

I ran with her and said, “You do not leave this gym. You are under my supervision. Stop your crying now and sit out. Get yourself back together and get back on.” The loud meltdown continued. “I was a crier as a kid,” I sad, “So I get it, but this is way too much. You need to tone it down. Now. Take a few deep breaths and get yourself to stop.”

I went back to the class. We worked on fouling the mess out of each other in friendly way. A did not participate. We broke down into a full court game of “You Against the World.”

A did not participate. Not until I demonstrated the “How to Take a Charge” Drill.

I laughed when she stood up and got in line. “So this is the drill you come back in on?”

She smiled.

“That means you are tough.” I said.

She did a great job of taking the charge in the first demo. Not bad in the second except she fell back and her butt didn’t hit the mat on the floor. She started crying again. It grew loud fast.

I picked her up and said, “Well, you signed up for it. You knew you were going to fall on your butt. Give yourself a few breaths, toughen up and stop crying.”

The fit continued. The crying continued on the sideline.

The boys didn’t know what to do, so we kept playing. Another game of You Against the World was enough to distract them and make them beg for water. At one point A went up to her dad, and he somehow got her back in or basically told her to get back down on the floor at least. But now we were talking two strikes.

She was on the sideline and I’m thinking she’s out for good and I told her she’s left me no choice but to focus on those who want in. Yet I refuse to give up. I call her over to me and surprisingly she storms over as angry as can be.

She’s crying again. I say, “Stop now. Your parents should not let you act like this, your teachers should not either. If they do, that’s on them. What’s happening here is on me and it’s not acceptable. I told you I cried as a kid. I am telling you what I want from you and in doing so, I’m saying you can do it.”

“I do this all the time,” she screams.

I say, “That’s fine, but you have to learn how to stop at some point.”

She’s now crying harder.

“Okay, so how ‘bout this? You’re the only girl in this workout. Do you really want them going home thinking that girls aren’t tough? That we are weaker and we cry and we can’t handle any pressure? This is personal to me. I built this program and started with all boys. They didn’t think that about me. You don’t want them thinking it about you. Toughen up, stop embarrassing yourself, and get it together.”

She goes back to her spot and puts her head against the mat on the wall. Then much to my surprise, she gets up for scrimmage time. I split the teams up. She’s on a decent team. The boys are doing what they can to make her feel good and I am proud of them. Then I demo to the group how to get open and not stay in one spot. I run and do a V-cut, then I say if that doesn’t work, go down to the blocks, cross, bump and pop out the other side. I demo it. They all nod. Ball is back in play. She doesn’t do what I say, and she knows it. I stop the game to show her again. She screams, “I have no idea what I am doing!” I said, “I know. That’s why I’m stopping the game. To help you.” I tell the boys to continue without her. I tell her she can sub in whenever she wants, but I am not going to spend time again trying to help her if she cannot help herself.

Practice ends. We line up to sprint, sprint, sprint and bear crawl the end. She not only gets better in the sprints, the two of us beat all the boys in the bear crawl and back. I cheer for her in every drill.

End of the workout, Dad doesn’t come downstairs just yet. He hesitates. I make a note to myself to email him and say the meltdown a) may not have occurred at all or b) would have been far less dramatic had he not been there. My email will say, I do this for a living, step out next time. The stress of it all and not performing in front of dad and trying to please me, herself, the kids around her – something has to give and it’s not going to be me.

The Dad and I make eye contact while I’m saying to A: “You don’t have to apologize or say thank you or say anything except this: ‘Coach, I will do better next time.’ I never asked you to be perfect. All I want to know is that you’ll agree to try harder to do better next time. That’s all I need to know, and I have no problem with what happened today.”

She looks past me at the other wall in the gym, and says “Thank you.”

Her softer tone told me she meant it. She meant it as much as I meant every word that night. Because of that honesty, and her father letting me tell her the truth even when it hurts, we’ll all be better next time.