What I learned coaching volleyball

I just finished coaching my kid’s volleyball team at the Y. It was the first time I’d ever coached anything, and the first time I’d ever been in charge of kids besides my own.

It was… and experience, to say the least. It’s not one that I was especially fond of if I can be completely honest. And I guess if I can’t be completely honest here, where can I? Well, in a private journal, but still. Work with me here, people.

So here’s what I learned, coaching volleyball.

Knowing and accepting my limitations is important.

I’m pretty open and honest about who I am here. So you probably know that I enjoy sports, both playing and watching them. I like kids, and I think it’s important to teach them things.

But you probably also know that I’m an introvert and really get anxious in new social settings. This leads me to second guess myself and get super upset. I also get really tired when I have to be sociable for extended periods of time. Especially when I have to not swear!

Now let’s add the fact that the games were Friday nights. My day job requires me to be at work at 7:00 am on Saturday. Friday is my Sunday, also. And the day I usually clean my whole house.

Do you see the problem with my plan to coach? That’s good because I didn’t see it until about three games in. No, that’s not true. I saw it right away. I just didn’t admit it to myself until three games in.

I actually remember how to play volleyball, and it’s kind of fun.

I was almost on the Jr. ROTC volleyball team, did I ever tell you guys that? Well, it’s true. I tried out and got on the team, but it was too much of a time commitment for my mom. A lot of things were too much of a time commitment back then, but that’s not the point of the story today.

But I did actually like volleyball. I was pleased to find out that I’m still actually pretty decent at it.

Teenage girls are nicer than I remember.

So let’s be clear, my kids weren’t great at volleyball. The other kids on the team were pretty good, but not always. There was a lot of messing up. Right along with that was a lot of teasing.

All of it was in kindness, though. There was no bullying. The girls were all really nice to each other. I was happily surprised. The whole team was full of really good kids. I may not have been thrilled to be there, but it was an honor to coach them.

If you don’t think you can do a thing, fake it really hard and it will mostly be okay.

At no time did I think I knew what I was doing. I was not prepared, not at all. I had no sort of training plan, no plays, nothing.

What I did have was a confident attitude and a big old smile on my face as I faked it really hard. And you know what? We actually won the majority of our games. So, I guess faking in until you make it actually does work for something.

Sometimes I just don’t want to know some things.

My darling husband decided to wait until we were leaving the last game to tell me that some of the parents had been saying unkind thing about me during the games. Since these were the same parents who were cussing on the sidelines and sitting on each other’s laps I really don’t care. Actually, I really didn’t care at all. I was the one who’d gone through the whole training process and volunteered to do this mess. They hadn’t. So I shut down my husband before he could repeat any of the unkind things that had been said. He himself wasn’t trying to be unkind in telling me these things. He was angry that they’d been complaining, and when he’s angry he needs to talk about it. I get it, I’m the same way.

The requirements to work with children are way stronger than I realized, which is a mixed blessing.

In order to volunteer to coach volleyball, I had to have a full background check, including a Children’s Service check. I also had to become a mandated reporter. That certification training is three hours of my life I’ll never get back.

On the one hand, this is good, because it tells me that the people who are around my children at places like the Y are looked into, and held to high standards. On the other hand, mandated reporting is scary. It puts people in the uncomfortable situation of having to report behavior that is probably nothing as though it’s something or risk jail time. It’s kind of 1984 esq, if we’re being honest. Everyone’s job becomes tattling on everyone else.

Not all experiences that are good are necessarily good for me.

While I did get a lot out of this experience, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was good for me. Nothing is good for everyone, except maybe water. The water we can all agree is good.

This could have been a really good experience for some people. I was not one of them. Please don’t take this to mean that I think it’s a bad thing to do, or that I’m in any way bad-mouthing the Y. This was a great program that my kids did enjoy and did get a lot out of.

This just wasn’t for me. So now is when I bow in thanks for the lesson and move on knowing that I did the best that I could.

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