It was supposed to be a glorious day.
It was an early out.
The early out became an earlier out with the pending snow storm.
6″ – 9″ inches of snow? 30 miles per hour winds? A good old fashioned blizzard?
You could feel the nervous, excited energy in the hallway. The natural energy that comes when a storm is on the horizon. Our principal, who cannot drink caffeine, was HUGELY jacked up this morning. It was supposed to be a glorious day.
And in the grand scheme of things, nothing terrible happened to me. Just a disappointment.
A couple of weeks ago, I accepted a new player on our team, a team who’d grown together since the middle part of October, a team that’s slowly but surely come together as a group of players into one unit. This player comes from a troubled background, a tough background. She was to be part of our team in November, but something came up and she wasn’t able to participate. Two weeks ago, I was talked into trying this again, and she came to our Wednesday morning practice, much to my surprise, much to EVERYONE’S surprise.
And she came last Sunday, and last Wednesday morning. And the thing is, the last two weeks, I’ve seen her smile more than I had in the last year. During practice, she made some 8th grade mistakes, and the girls just said, “That’s ok,” and away we went. She took a crazy shot, and one girl said, “It looked better than mine,” and away we went. Our team kind of circled around here and brought her in. And I was grouchy about the whole thing UNTIL I started to see this happening. I was afraid introducing this girl would create issues with our team. It didn’t. I was pleasantly surprised how my girls just went with it. Not only did practices go well, she’d “switched tables” at lunch, sitting with some of the her teammates.
Yesterday, she was caught doing something, and it puts all of this in jeopardy. The trust. The budding friendships. All of it. And for what? I don’t know. I’m not sure we’ll ever know. It was like a balloon was deflated inside me as I was told about this. It just was so disappointing to hear about this, watching a transformation take place like this one. The worst part for me as a coach, there’s talent there, untapped, but talent all the same. Suddenly, it’s not there. We’ll see what the team feels as we talk through this, but they were learning to trust someone outside their circle.
Which leads me to the next question in my reflections: How do we help those students who cannot help themselves? How to we get them away from those toxic situations, away from that environment where they fight and fight to get out, but see no other way but to succumb? Mental health? Counseling? Mentors? All cost something, either in money or time, both of which are in short supply.
Ok, more than a question, and I don’t have the answers.
All I want to know: Why?