As I woke up Sunday morning and went to hike Bishop’s Peak, I was thinking about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place and do something I truly love. The season is already half over and could not be going any quicker. It was just six months ago when I met our five incoming freshmen, and I have seen them transform into much more confident tennis players and people.
They came in as timid girls with different personalities, cultures (one is from Belgium, another from Israel) and interests. Yet they have created such a strong bond with each other and have become the closest of friends. This is one of the rewarding parts of coaching: watching the girls grow into their identities and coming together as a team. When I was a player, I never really noticed these subtle changes that I or my teammates made, but now that I am outside the box, everything is much more clear.
On Friday after practice, I decided to do a fun activity to keep up the team morale. Because it has been a hard week with finals, Hugh and I have tried to make the last 15 minutes of practice really fun and different. So far we have played a competitive doubles game, a game of tag, a relay race and made sure there was lots of laughing and joking around. This way they can come to practice and use it as a release (from studying) rather than finding it a burden. Our hope is if we make it fun in practice that they can head back to study in better moods, be relieved of stress and feel confident about their tennis games.
For my activity, I had the girls sit in a circle, and I picked someone out. I said something I admired, was thankful for and how she has been a positive influence in my life. She then picked another girl on the team and complimented her. The girls kept doing this until everyone on the team had received and given a compliment. It was pretty emotional, and the girls left practice in a better mood, while feeling positive about themselves and their teammates. As simple as it sounds, it really works. Hearing something nice or saying something positive about someone you care about is really refreshing and rewarding.
The girls carried this positive energy and momentum to our Saturday morning match. We played an easier team in our conference, so we were able to mix up our line-ups and give other girls on the team an opportunity to play. It is good to give everyone a chance (especially the ones who normally cheer) so they continue to stay inspired and eager to improve. The girls are very selfless in this sense that they support whoever is out on the court. It is fun to watch the leaders on the team sit out and support the girls who are at the bottom of the line-up and are normally the ones doing the encouraging.
The girls finished the dual match with great vocal support, lots of energy and improved team unity. I see us continuing to improve and striving to reach our goal of becoming the most improved team in the country!
Living the Dream,
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