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April 2022

The surprises that come with "yes".

This past September, I was asked to help coach my twelve-year old daughter's community basketball team. When I told my family and friends, they all had the same reaction,"you!?" We were united in our surprise. I'm in no way tall and and I've played one season of basketball in my life. IN GRADE FOUR. But I was in.

 

Incredibly, I was matched with Coach B. who was not only gifted in coaching kids, he was an incredible mentor to me, despite me being twice his age. He treated me as an equal who just had a few things to learn. I listened to him and watched, a lot. As the weeks went by, I picked up vocabulary, technique, and some skill to be able to actually help. We started to be able to work as a coaching team, assessing kids' areas of strength and where we needed to focus skill-building and fun. 

 

When, a few months later, my kids' school was short a helper for the senior girls' basketball team I felt fine saying yes, in fact, I felt pretty well-equipped!

 

I walked into the gym that fateful lunch hour, ready to meet my coach and the players. I was warmly greeted by two teachers who opened the equipment room for me and gave me my player roster. Confused, I asked which one of them would be coaching with me, and they explained that they were not the sponsors of the team, but instead, sponsors of the time, which meant...I. Was. The. Coach.

 

There I was, yellow whistle dangling from my neck, nervous sweat about to bloom, looking at a gym full of grade seven girls ready to play basketball. They looked at me...I looked at them...they looked at me...

 

I had a decision to make: Do I explain that there had been a big mistake, cut my losses, and head back to work...or do I lean in to my small repertoire of basketball skills and see if I could make this work? I looked at the players, my players. If they were willing to show up, so was I. I leaned in. Hard.

Before we started dribbling a ball I called the players to the whiteboard and drew a layer cake. I walked them through how we were going to build this team together. We'd start at the first, foundational layer of trust, we wouldn't move on to the second layer of skills until we had built the first layer. Once we had the first two layers, we could move into playing, the candle on the top (a non-essential, nice-to-have) was winning which was sure to not happen if we didn't build our layers strong, with heart. The plate that supported the cake was me - their coach. They were all in. They were able to leave whatever had gone on that morning, the day before on the school grounds, what was coming that night, and just focus on themselves, their team, and the cake.

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When I went back to community ball that week and told Coach B what had happened, we laughed and he immediately offered to be a resource for me and my new team in any way he could. He was there for me so I could be there for them. As the weeks went on, he continued to offer support, plays, and share in my joy of my new found team. I, in turn, was able to bring more experience to our evening practices and my school players gained confidence and skill - a generative cycle.

 

By building my school team from the bottom up, with trust, the players knew how to support each other. They knew we weren't going to move forward onto skills unless there was trust and kindness on the court, even if it wasn't happening on the playground. They were oriented to each other and to me, and they gained skills and succeeded together, with the support of us all. If they wanted to get that candle, they were going to have to work to get there. When we hit the tournament, they were a team, and they left it all on the court that day.

 

We all need someone on the court, or in our corner, who we can trust. I have a basketball coach willing to act as a scaffold to my community team work. I have an executive coach and a mentor coach who help me navigate, learn, and build my business. The team members who are there for me allow me to give back to my community and clients, scaffolding them in their learning and building - another generative cycle.

It's been six months since I walked into that community basketball gym and met Coach B. I started as an enthusiastic and new sport coach, unsure of what to do, but was able to do it because of the support he gave me. 


I'd never in a million years have thought that one "yes" would turn into me coaching a team of grade seven girls to a tournament or now a community coach with my own team of middle schoolers, and my own co-coach. 


What are you holding back saying "yes" to?

In awe of possibility,

~Steph