An open letter to my past, current and future volleyball players.
Dear past, current and future volleyball players,
I ask of you one thing: when you walk into my gym, be able to tell me what you love about this game. Remember it every time you walk through those doors and onto my court. There is no use playing this game with half your heart. Be all in, or get off my court.
In volleyball and in life, do everything with purpose. Think about what you're doing; where you're hitting the ball, how you're reading the hitters and blockers. Out smart them. Know why you're playing this game. Want to be here. If your parents are forcing you to be here, sit them down and tell them where you really want to be. You will only get something out of being on my court if you WANT to be here. We as coaches are here for you. Not because we are paid a ton of money, because we are not, but because we want to teach you the love we have for this game.
Show up. Be there early. Set the nets up. As a coach, I notice who is there early, who is staying late. Who is asking for help. If your practices are staggered, ask to practice with the team a step up from yours. You will always learn more when you practice with people better than you. Ask me for how you can improve. Be there. Watch a varsity practice. Stay for all of the varsity game and pay attention to what is happening on the court; see what is going well and what isn't. Show up and pay attention.
Be present. You're going to have a bad day. Be it school, boys, family, you're going to have days where you didn't sleep, didn't get your homework done, have a test to study for, or got up on the wrong side of the bed. Leave it at the door. Use this court as your therapy session for the day. Your sibling or parents made you mad, you got dumped by a boy, take it out on the ball. But focus on why you are here practicing. Use this time to let go of the other stress in your life and play the game you love.
Don't give me excuses. If you're late, didn't sleep, couldn't find your shoes. I honestly don't care. Don't give me an excuse. Tell me it's never going to happen again and make sure that it doesn't. Pack three pairs of shoes if you have to. But do not, I repeat, Do Not walk into my gym and tell me an excuse. you can expect to be running multiple suicides, or you can walk right back out that door and find someone else to tell it to.
You're going to win some and you're going to lose some, but it is our reactions that matter. Don't get down on yourself. Sit in our huddle after our game and make a promise to me, yourself and your teammates that you will do better. This game isn't about wins and losses, it is about learning life lessons and learning how to become mentally tough. Yes I love a win, I'm a competitive person, and will I be upset when we lose, of course, it's human nature. But we have to look at this as a learning opportunity. Where can we improve. What did the game tell us? What did the girl in your position on the other team do better than you? How can we shut her down next time we meet? Don't sit in my huddle and cry. I will kick you out. Demand better from yourself. Get mad and use that energy to work harder tomorrow.
Let it go. Never get in your own head. Don't let something someone else says to you, a bad pass, set or hit get in your head. If you condition yourself to get down on yourself play after play there is no way out. You might as well be sitting on the bench. Let it go. Move on. The less you carry with you and focus on what you need to do right, the better you will play. Always let it go.
You may not like me at times, but know it isn't personal. I'm here as your coach to push you. To see how far you can go. Once I see your potential, I'm going to demand it, and more at all times. You're not always going to like your coach. You will come across many coaches as an athlete, and each coach very differently from me. Know what you need out of a coach and tell them that. They may not accommodate you, but you need to be flexible. Open a line of communication, but know as a coach, we coach this way for a reason. You may need to figure out what you can pull from our coaching style to fit your type of learning. Ask questions, be involved and open your mind of up to a different way of coaching.
Communicate. I don't care if you are a freshman on varsity, you have a voice use it. Talk to your teammates on the court. The bench should be talking constantly during a game. Talk about what is happening, cheer on your teammates but keep your energy up because that is what is going to keep you out of your head and focused on the play that is happening in that moment. One pass at a time, one play at a time, one game at a time, one match at a time. It all starts and ends with communication.
Give it your all. Be all in, all the time. I want you to walk away from a work out, practice and game knowing that you left everything on the court. You gave it everything you have. And believe me, I'll know when you do. A loss isn't just a loss if you gave it everything you have, it is a brilliant lesson that we don't always get what we think we deserve. But I'll be there damn proud of the effort you put forth. That is all I ask of you.
Share your love of the game. and never forget why you love it. You may walk away from my team and play club, you may play in college or in a pick-up league. But play this game because you love it. Understand the lessons it teaches you to persevere through challenges, that life doesn't always hand you a winning season, that you have to work hard for what you want in life.
Know I will always be here for you. Be it volleyball, life, school, love or family. I am not just your coach. I am your cheerleader in life. Know that I am always on your side and here for you whether you play for me or have graduated. My door is always open. Know that what you learn on my court can be applied to many facets of your life. Just keep your mind open, and never stop loving this game. Remember what it gave to you for those four years in high school. Think of all the teammates you met, matches you won, and those close games you lost, long hard practice you got through, look at what a strong well-rounded woman you will be when you walk out of my gym for the last time.
But remember. I'm always here for you, no matter what. You girls have changed my life more than you know and I am so grateful and honored to have the opporutnity to coach you and know you.
Be all in.
xx Coach Staci