One of the many things I am grateful for is the opportunity to witness, again and again the growth and development of the young people I work with. We spend so much time focused on speed and strength and skills – the physical dimension of what a player needs to do. But, when it comes down to it , it is the change in the person that is most important and rewarding and powerful.
I had a cup of coffee a while back with a former player. It’s always good to see the college players when they’re home on break but, this was even more special than the regular holiday visits. Her college career behind her, this was one of those rare moments, transitional moments,when you get to pause, to look back at what has been and forward at what you’re imagining what might be next.
Reflecting on our conversation, I am filled with gratitude. John Gardener once said that ” all development is self development”. We labor under the illusion that coaching is something we do to or for our players but the truth is we’re companions on the journey. That doesn’t mean what we do and say doesn’t matter, it does. In the end though it’s the players who do the work and the players who accomplish the results. And, in the end , if we are open to it, they contribute at least as much to our growth and development as we do to theirs.
It’s fun to keep score – to tally up the wins and championships and honors and statistics and yet they are a pale reflection of what really happens. The unfolding and blossoming of a young person as they go from awkward teen to young adult seem both predictable and surprising. Predictable because you get occasional glimpses of the potential that seems to lie within and a surprise because as the process unfolds their story is so much richer than you could have ever imagined.
I listened as my young friend reflected on her accomplishments, on the relationships she has developed and on the things she remembers. And I also listened with a sense of awe as she shared the insight she has gained into herself, competition, other people and life. I don’t know of a test or a statistic that measures that kind of transformation. There is a story there that numbers can’t tell. And, her story is only beginning. Feeling grateful to have been there to watch it unfold.