Loomis Chaffee Sports Information Director and head field hockey coach Bobbi Moran offers some final bits of wisdom and thanks to our departing seniors as they graduate and move on from the Island.
The Class of 2014, which graduated on Sunday, was a class of wonderful young women and men who graced the halls, courts, pools, ice, track, diamond, course, and playing field and helped me to become a better coach, teacher, mentor, and parent.
I am not saying that working with these student athletes was always easy. As a matter of fact, a few of them gave me agita from time to time, but I probably gave my own high school coaches a few gray hairs over my four years as well, so I chalk it up to karma.
I have had a tradition of writing a note to outgoing seniors with whom I have worked, but this year I have not had the chance to formally thank many of them. Instead, I offer them my thoughts on what I hope they have learned as Pelican athletes:
Teaching a concept is as wonderful an experience as mastering a concept. If you think you know it all, try to teach it or coach it. It can be a humbling experience. In the moments when I am grappling to find new and creative ways to explain what seems elementary to me, I realize that I need to reconsider how I see something and put myself into the shoes of the person I am working with to figure out how I can best be understood.
Success in coaching (as in teaching) is not about how good the coach is, but how good the athlete ends up being as a result. The final test, the big game, the pressure situation highlights how well a coach has or has not prepared you for what you face. As a coach, I must own my share of your success and failure regarding preparation; you own your desire to use what you have learned. If you haven’t already done so, thank your coaches, teachers, advisors, and parents for the wisdom they have shared with you on your LC journey because even adults who are comfortable in what they teach and coach need to know they are making a difference.
Just because you have learned a concept, move, or skill does not mean you should stop working on it, honing it, studying its subtle nuances. The will to achieve can oftentimes be more satisfying than actually mastering the technique. When we learn we grow. Once we master a concept, it is easy to forget what it took to get there. So respect and appreciate the struggle in yourself and others. I find it is only when things are uncomfortable that I actually do something to change. Embrace discomfort and relish the opportunity to learn, grow, and make mistakes.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes. I have a quote in my office by John Wooden that I am pretty sure I have worn out on my student athletes: “Do not fear making a mistake as long as it is the right kind of mistake. If you are not making some mistakes, you are not doing anything. Not trying to make things happen. To win games (and I would add ‘to win at life’) you have to make something happen. Just like anywhere else. Mistakes are a part of winning. Not dumb mistakes or those caused by haste and sloppiness, but mistakes made by intelligent and thoughtful individuals attempting to make something happen.” Student athletes sometimes are afraid to disappoint their coaches, teachers, parents, friends, and perhaps ultimately themselves, so they are afraid to push the outer edge of the envelope. When I give athletes an instruction on the field, they can take me too literally. They want to get it just right and are often afraid to get creative and think outside the box. I am telling you now to redefine the box, be creative, make mistakes (intelligent ones), and take healthy risks because your innate intelligence will not steer you wrong. Follow your gut and listen to your heart, and you will never be disappointed. And those who truly love you will be happy to see you grow and gain your independence. Sometimes my vision of the field is completely different from what my athletes see in the heat of a game. Trust what you believe is right and go for it. As a coach, I am seldom frustrated by an athlete who grabs the reigns in a game and makes a split-second decision that they believe is best for the team. This is what good leaders do. Be a leader.
Respect your teammate, your opponent, your officials, your coach, your fans, and most of all yourself and always give others the dignity that they deserve. Along with John Wooden's quote, I have the Golden Rule pinned to my office bulletin board, but this year in a faculty meeting where we discussed gender issues, equality, and related topics, I began to rethink the Golden Rule. Instead of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” I think I would rather ask you to consider “Treating others they way they want to be treated, not the way you want to treat them.” This does not mean that you have to agree with the call, the attitude, the poor behavior, or the foolish choices; it just means that you should understand and respect that every person has a right to his or her own choices. The most you can do is lead by example in thought, word, and deed and hope that others appreciate and respect you for it. If they do, great. If they don’t, that becomes their problem and not your problem. If you always respect yourself and treat others with kindness and dignity, you can put your head on your pillow at night and know you have done the best job you can.
Finally, remember where you came from. Good or bad, easy or difficult, the struggles, challenges, triumphs, and fears that have made you who you are today and who you will be tomorrow are part of the fabric of your life. What I love about playing and coaching sports is that in the course of competition you face choices, challenges, and opportunities and you must accept and be responsible for your portion of the outcome. The people along the way who cheer you on, pick you up, encourage you, and challenge you care deeply about you. So remember your roots, your family, your friends, and everything it has taken to get you where you are. Never grow too important to thank those around you. Humility goes a long way in life. Stay positive. Learn to smile more than you frown, and good things will follow.
It has been an honor to watch you grow. My eyes have filled with tears and you have given me goose bumps when I see you fail and succeed, when you have worked so hard that you didn’t think you could take another step, lift another weight, stretch another inch, and yet you did. It is an amazing experience to coach and teach young people. Your energy, your light, your laughter, and your passion shine through in all your endeavors. Do your best to fuel your passion, follow your dreams, and always share your gifts with others.