This year my 9-year-old daughter, Nee, made a resolution to join a basketball team. Without thinking, I immediately agreed to coach her basketball team. My wife, KayEm, recorded both resolutions before I had a chance to consider the implications of my commitment.
I had recently coached my son’s baseball team and I made some mistakes that caused a rift in our relationship. Being a coach and being a dad is a difficult balance. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes with my daughter. In addition, my work travel schedule made it nearly impossible to predict when I’d be available to attend practices and/or games.
As the sign-up date approached, I realized that I would be unable to keep my commitment to Nee. When I told her the bad news, she was devastated.
“But you promised,” she said with tears in her eyes. My heart was broken as I watched her sob. I pulled her close to my chest and promised to assist the coach whenever I was in town. She accepted this compromise as I tucked her into bed.
A Series of Fortunate Events
After the first practice, I told the coach that I was available to help. He thanked me for the offer and told me to be ready to assist at the next practice.
Later that week, I received a call from the coach.
“Hey, are you the guy who offered to help with the coaching?” he asked.
“I sure am,” I replied.
“Great,” he said. “I’m going out of town and I need someone to cover practice for me next week.”
“I’ll take care of it,” I said.
When I told Nee that I was going to coach the practice, she was thrilled. Things went smoothly that night and I was able to make a connection with the other girls on the team.
About two weeks later, the coach called again.
“I’m going to be out of town for the rest of the season,” he said. “Can you take over as coach?”
“Um, sure,” I said. Once again, my mouth wrote a check that I wasn’t sure if my butt could cover. Miraculously, I was able to schedule my work travel around the practices and games.
These Werewolves Don’t Fight Vampires
When I took over as coach, the Werewolves (obviously these girls have seen too much Twilight) were 0-2. None of the girls on our team had ever played basketball before and were being bullied by the more aggressive teams (some of the other girls were so aggressive that they had to be ejected from the games).
As the season wore on, the Werewolves’ losses mounted and the girls grew discouraged. After a 20-point loss, a couple of my girls started crying and calling themselves losers.
“Regardless of what that scoreboard said,” I preached. “You are not losers! You are awesome competitors, skilled players, and strong, intelligent girls. Don’t tie your self-confidence to the game’s outcome. You are winners! And I’m proud of the way you played.”
My speech seemed to spark something in the girls because they played much harder in the next game. They ran the court with confidence, played great defense and refused to let the other team intimidate them. Nee even scored a basket for the first time. Although they lost the game, they held their heads high afterward.
A Resolution Kept
The Werewolves ended their season with a 1-5 record (they “won” the Parents vs Kids game). After our last game, I asked Nee about her basketball experience.
“What was the best part of the season for you,” I asked Nee.
“Having you as my coach,” she replied.
“That was the best part for me too,” I said as I kissed her on the forehead.