What’s the hardest part of teaching and coaching? I’m sure people could go on and on about what’s hard, but for me, I have one clear answer… the goodbye.
The dreaded goodbye that inevitably comes around every year.
Tonight was one of those goodbyes. My last volleyball practice with my 18-year-olds, some of which have been with me for two years now. My last time correcting their form, laughing at an extremely ungraceful dive, checking if they are okay, encouraging them, and even making Tik Toks with them.
My philosophy when working with kids of any age remains the same – they are kids first. Not students, not athletes, real, live, human kids. They have baggage. They have bad days. They have a life that exists outside of the classroom and off the court. While I may be getting paid to teach or to coach, I feel there is so much more that goes into the job.
I feel like we live in a world where the simple words, “I am proud of you” have slipped through the cracks more often than not. That is one phrase I believe every one of my “kids” needs to hear. As I sat down today and wrote each of my players a letter, I made sure to include those simple words – “I am proud of you.” I am so incredibly proud of those young women and I want them to hear those words. I want them to value themselves. I want them to feel recognized and heard. I want them to know I care. I want them to know this was so much more than a job to me.
At the end of practice today we made one final Tik Tok. I passed out my letters to each of the girls. We laughed and we pretended like this wasn’t the end. There was this sadness in the air that we refused to acknowledge. When I walked out those doors and got into my car, it hit. That was it. The waterworks began. The goodbye I had been dreading had finally arrived and it HURT.
How is it fair that I spend MONTHS with these kids and then I just have to say goodbye? Send them off into the world? I pour myself into everything I do and these kids feel like pieces of my heart and year after year, season after season, I have to say goodbye? It feels unfair, but that’s the job because next year and next season there will be a brand new group of kids for me to pour into and tell “I am proud of you.”
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