Sunday, March 13, 2016

It's How We Sit the Bench That Matters

Disclaimer: This blog post will not solve life problems, but it's a glimpse into why a few girls ( and many others) have showed meit's how we sit the bench that matters.

Several years ago I cut a girl from the varsity soccer team I coach because she wasn't ready for varsity sports.  A few years after that I told a young freshman if she ever wanted to set foot on the field for more than 5 minutes she needed to get fit and come back ready to play.  I have had many female athletes who have spent more time on the sidelines than on the field.  The amazing story comes in what happens on the bench.

The young girl I cut from the team returned a year later and she was ready.  She started every game for three years.  This girl eventually became a captain on her college and high school teams.  The young freshman returned her sophomore year extremely fit. This young athlete became a captain, eventually an MVP and eventually a collegiate athlete.
I watched a girl compete over and over again despite a knee injury that kept re-occurring.  She would sit on the bench in tears and tell her teammates to keep going.
These girls also spent quality time on the bench.  They had a choice to make and they made it.

Failure can be our greatest success story.

As a coach,  I have a tendency to watch players on the bench just as much as on the field/court.  What they do when they sit on the bench or how they behave when the come off the court and the field says everything.  Do they sit with their heads in their hands? Do they cheer on their teammates? Can they encourage others even when they don't feel like it? Do they sit slumped and mad or do they stay engaged for the sake of their teammates?

Can I do that?

Sometimes we all sit the bench.  Guess what? There are millions of photographers better than I am, there coaches more talented and parents who never let their kids eat sugar before their first birthday.

I  have failed. I have not always cheered on others. One girl changed that in me.

Our greatest success can be found on the bench:

One of my players year after year watches her teammates have success while she sees the sidelines more than the fields. Year after year she cheers, she encourages her teammates and she never ever makes an excuse.  She's amazing. She never lets up on a run, she never misses a practice, her parents have never called me, she has never complained.  This doesn't mean she didn't cry or get in the car and vent to her mom. I get how hard it is. Yet she will find success far above many others.  She has taught me more than she will ever know.   It's how she sits the bench that matters and it matters greatly.

I have decided to encourage others even in the face of my own failure. I will make every effort to teach my children that as well. {in progress!}  I will make sure other artists know they are to be  celebrated even when I might be facing a down time of my own.  I will make sure that even if I don't see success in my first  tries, I will never allow excuses to weigh me down.  I will be ok with my own failures and successes.  I will cheer on others even if it's my turn to sit the bench. I will not hang my head or resent others for that is not what makes players great or artists memorable.  I will probably fail at this from time to time.

It's easy to be awesome in those successful moments, it's pretty darn amazing to be awesome in the shadows of the bench.  It's how we sit the bench that really matters.
Cheer on.

And when things aren't going your way for the moment, volunteer with me, it's perspective in it's rawest of forms.  Because for some, sitting the bench is the only option.


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