SHE BELIEVED SHE COULD SO SHE DID
When I put on my uniform that means people are about to watch me. Not just people, but young eyes, that are taking in anything and everything that my teammates, opponents, and I are about to do. While I have this uniform, with the big eyes and ready-to-listen ears of young girls, I want to inspire. With the whole world and all the media telling them that they “aren’t good enough” or if they do “this” and “that” then they will be beautiful, I want to tell them they are perfect exactly the way they are.
I’ve been involved in many, many summer skill camps for volleyball that require me to step in as a coach to young girls and teach them the game of volleyball. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed it, coaching that is. My enjoyment actually comes from ditching the authoritative coaching gig and randomly walking up to the young girls when I see they have a moment to talk and make a connection with them. I’ll ask them how their day was, if their enjoying their time here, and how everything is going in school. It usually leads to them opening up about a lot of different things.
A moment that I’ll never forget happened last summer and it was the day our program director gave each of us a bracelet and told us that we should each find a girl before the end of the day and personally give them this bracelet. The girl of our choice could be for any reason, for example, because we thought she was a hard worker, we liked her hair, she always brought a big smile each day, or she conquered a new skill and made progress, the choice was ours. I don’t remember exactly how I came across this young girl but I remember she was pretty small, had big glasses, and I want to say she was in middle school. I asked her how her day was and we eventually started talking about her time at school and friends. I asked her what subjects she enjoyed in school and if she had any dreams or passions and she disappointingly said no. Hearing that hurt. She almost answered as if she was saying, “Who am I to have dreams or be something?” and I immediately told her she could do and be whatever she wanted to be if she believed it. I wanted her to know that the world was hers for the taking and that she has the strength inside to do whatever it is she wanted to do. I gave her my bracelet, but I wasn’t sure if I got through to her until she came up to me later and started crying because she wanted to say thank you and then told me no one has ever told her that she is capable of doing great things in life. She said that her mom and her only sit not he couch and watch reality TV together. I gave her a huge hug. I’ll never forget that moment. The fact that I had an impact on her or that I could change the way she saw herself and her dreams had a huge impact on me.