This weekend four of our teams played in a local tournament. There were ten teams total, and in the afternoon a bunch of my parents started texting me with excitement to let me know that all four teams had made it to the semis. I couldn't have been happier for our girls.
That being said, I don't get too caught up in the results of our tournaments. I know the girls care about wins, and so when they achieve their goals, I'm happy for them. However, even if they hadn't made it out of pool play I'd be proud of this group of kids.
I always want my kids to know I'm happy for them when they do well, but it's equally important to let them know that their value to me as human beings is not contingent on what place they finished. If they walk off the court knowing they did the best of which they were capable, I'm a proud coach - even if they don't win a game.
I'm proud of the pair of kids who started their journey together in the sand six months ago with no experience together, including one player who was brand new to beach. The first two weeks, you could see they were getting frustrated with how challenging learning how to play together can be. We sat down and discussed what they were feeling when things were getting difficult, as well as better ways to respond to the adversity. They've become one of our more 'in-tune' duos, constantly calling timeouts and working together, asking questions, and embracing the challenges that come with learning the game of beach doubles.
Almost all of the girls in the picture came to our program with a lot of insecurity issues on the court. Half of our errors were more about being afraid to screw up vs. being aggressive to try to make the play. It's still something we're working on today, but all these girls have put so much effort into not letting a bad play turn into a bad game, and learning to allow themselves to make mistakes, assess what could be done differently, and move forward. They've also committed to their partners to work alongside them through the physical slumps, and it's turned them into pretty resilient players.
All the kids above come to practice and commit to giving their best effort. We've given them an environment where they can focus on working on their game and not worry about being yelled at if they make a mistake. We constantly give them constructive feedback when they need it or ask for it, but the goal at camp is to give their best physical/mental effort and respect their peers, nothing more, nothing less, and they've bought in.I'm happy for them regarding their results on Saturday, but I'm proud of how they've worked to get to this point.
So, to Ellie, Meera, Stephanie, Erin, Cat, Cayley, Meghan, and Jules, congratulations on an excellent tournament. I'm happy to see you all get so far in the tournament: I'm proud of you for the work you put in each day to prepare for your events. I'm proud of you for the type of people you are, not the caliber of player. I'm proud of you for battling on the court for each point, but respecting each other while both on and off of it. I'm appreciative to have the opportunity to coach you and help you as you work towards hitting new personal bests.
That being said, practice starts in a couple hours: Let's get back to work!