Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Pressures of a Third Grade Girls Basketball Coach

I sent the following email to my parents in February 2005.  My mom recently forwarded it back to me.  It makes me realize that I truly miss coaching and how wonderful kids are.

A recap of Audrey's last game:

The characters:
Audrey - a small girl who loves the social aspect of sports.  Not very competitive.
Alex - a tall, slightly hyperactive girl whose asthma tends to bother her only when it suits her needs.
Kira - a short, extremely competitive girl who tends to forget to dribble.
Jennifer - a slightly whiny girl prone to "great and serious" injuries.
Sarah - a very nice, slightly out of shape girl who tends to take things a little personally.
Kristi Lynn - a nice girl, perhaps a bit of an Eddie Haskell.
Paul - an exasperated coach enjoying himself all the same because the girls don't act like they know everything already, unlike another (still undefeated) team he coaches.

5:45PM - en route to game
Audrey - "Dad, no matter what, don't start me because I am not ready for that."
Paul - "I'll do what I can Audrey.  Rachel won't be there already, so we are only going to have six players."

6:02PM - the game begins
Paul - "Ok girls, Alex isn't here yet, so you five are starting.  Let's match-up and figure out who we are guarding."
Audrey - "Dad! You said I wouldn't have to start!"
Paul - "No, honey, I said I would see what I could do.  Alex isn't here yet, so I need you to start."
Audrey - "But can't we just start with four?"
Paul - "No, that would give the other team an unfair advantage.  Now, come on, I need you out on the floor."
Audrey scowls and slowly walks out onto the floor.
Jennifer - "My finger hurts."
Paul - "Oh, that's too bad Jennifer.  Here, I want you to guard number 7."
Jennifer (incredulously) - "I still have to play?!?!?"
Paul - "Yes, Jennifer, we only have five players here."
Kira - "Where are Alex and Rachel?"
Paul - "Alex should be here soon and Rachel has religion class.  The game is starting - do you remember who you are guarding?"
Kira - "No."

6:05PM - Alex arrives
Audrey - "Dad, can I come out now?"
Paul - "Audrey, she has to take her coat off and get her shoes on first."
Audrey - "Then can I come out?"

Paul (nudging Alex onto the court) - "Audrey come off now."
Sarah - "Can I come off too?  I'm tired."
Paul - "Let me give Audrey a little rest and then I'll take you out Sarah."
Jennifer - "But I want to sit out too!"
Kristi Lynn - "I'm  not tired, Paul!"
Meanwhile, Kira makes a steal and begins running full speed with the ball, going approximately half the distance of the court before remembering to dribble.
Jennifer - "My ankle hurts."

6:10PM - End of the first quarter
Paul - "Ok, good job girls!  Just remember, when you are on offense you need to move around and try to get open."
Sarah - "We can't, they're guarding us!"
Paul - "That's ok, that's their job.  You need to move around and try to get open."
Jennifer - "What's the point?  They just follow us.  Is Sarah done sitting out now because if she is it's my turn."
Alex - "I love spaghetti!"
Kristi Lynn - "I'm trying to get open, Paul!"
Paul - "Good, Kristi Lynn, just keep trying."
Kira - "Number 4 stuck her tongue out at me!"
Paul - "I'm sorry to hear that, Kira.  Ok, are you girls ready?"
Kristi Lynn - "Yes."
Alex, Audrey, Jennifer, Kira, Sarah - "No."
Kira - "Are we winning?"
Paul - "I don't know, Kira, we don't keep score."
Kira - "We're losing, aren't we?"
Paul - "I don't know Kira.  The game is starting now.  Try to remember to dribble."

6:15PM  Kristi Lynn is sitting out.  Sarah falls down and hurts her knee.  Paul comes out on the court to talk to her.
Paul - "Are you ok, Sarah?  What hurts?"
Sarah (sobbing) - "NO! I fell on my knee!"
Paul (pretends to give knee thorough examination) - "I think you just banged it Sarah.  Do you think you can still play?  I just took Kristi Lynn out and she hasn't had a break yet."
Sarah (sobbing intensifies) - "NOOO!  IT HURTS SOOOO BAD!!!"
Paul - "Kristi Lynn, do you think you can come back in?"
Kristi Lynn - "Yes, I'm trying my best!"
Paul - "That's great, Kristi Lynn.  Sarah, do you want to sit out for a little while?"
Sarah (sobbing abruptly stops as she hops up and runs to the sideline) - "Ok."
Jennifer (suddenly) - "OOOOOOOHHHHH - MY ANKLE!!!"
Paul - "Sorry, Jennifer, I need you to play for a while."
Jennifer (grabbing throat) - "But I'm sooooo thirsty" (choking noise) "I'm going to pass out!"
Paul - "It's almost half-time Jennifer.  You can get a drink then."
Jennifer (scowling) - "But I'm dying!"

6:22PM Half-time
Paul - "Ok girls, good job!  Let's just remember to stay by who you are guarding and move around on offense."
Sarah - "I don't like playing this team.  Can't we just play the team we played last time?"
Jennifer - "Yeah, they push you and the referee doesn't even do anything!"
Kira - "What's the score?  We're losing, aren't we?"
Paul - "You girls don't sound like you're having any fun out there.  Are you?"
(All at once)
Alex - "It's hard to have fun when you have asthma."
Jennifer - "No, they have three people guarding me."
Sarah - "No, because they guard you."
Kira - "No, we're losing."
Audrey - "No, I like practices better."
Kristi Lynn - "I'm having fun, Paul!"
Paul - "Ok girls, let's just go out and try to have some fun this half.  I want to see you all smiling - ok?  Now, Kira hasn't sat out yet, so she will be sitting out to start the half."
Audrey - "But it's my turn!"
Paul - "No, Audrey, Kira hasn't sat out yet.  You're next."
Audrey groans and scowls
Jennifer - "I have to sit out my ankle hurts and I'm soooooo thirsty!"
Paul - "But Jennifer, you're drinking your water bottle right now."
Jennifer - "So?  That doesn't help my ankle."
Sarah - "I forgot - I jammed my finger too.  I don't think I can play."
Jennifer - "I am not playing."
Kira - "I don't need to sit out, I'll play"
Jennifer (smiling for the first time) - "Yay!"
Audrey - "No fair."

6:33PM - Near the end of the third quarter
KT (from the stands) - "Audrey, move around!"
Audrey give KT a "if looks could kill you'd be six feet under" stare.

6:35PM - End of third quarter
Kira - "We're getting our butts kicked!"
Paul - "It doesn't matter, Kira, we're not keeping score."
Sarah, Audrey, Jennifer - "I'm not having fun."
Paul - "Ok girls, just try to get through one more quarter and then next week at practice we'll try to figure out how to make it more fun for you."
Jennifer - "Do we have to?  My elbow hurts."
Alex - "I have asthma - I can't have fun."
Kira - "What's the score?"
Paul - "I want to see some smiles this quarter!"
Paul is met with scowls from all but Kristi Lynn
Kristi Lynn - "I'm having fun and trying my best, Paul!"
Jennifer - "My head hurts soooooo bad!  Can I sit out?"
Paul - "Fine, Jennifer.  Alex, you check in.  Do you see that Jennifer was guarding number 11?"
Alex - "I'm bilingual!  Hola!"
Paul - "That's great, Alex.  Can you please guard number 11?"
Alex - "Si, senor!"
Alex proceeds to guard number 9.
Audrey - "How come Jennifer gets to sit out again?"
Kira - "Are we losing? We're losing, aren't we?"

6:45PM - End of game
Paul - "Good job girls!  Did you have fun?  I didn't see many smiles out there."
Kristi Lynn - "I had fun and I tried my hardest."
Alex - "I wanted to have fun, but it's hard when you have asthma."
Sarah - "I don't like this team.  I only want to play the other one."
Kira - "Paul, I didn't have any fun because we lost.  We lost, didn't we? What was the score?"
Jennifer - "The other team was mean.  They kept hurting me."
Audrey - "Dad, I didn't have any fun because we don't get treats after the game like we do in soccer."
Paul - "Ok girls, I'll tell you what - When we have our next game, I'll bring treats for after the game if you girls promise to try to have fun and smile out there"
All six girls scream deafeningly loud, jump up and down, smile and cheer "YEEEEAAAAAAA!!!!"

The moral of the story?  Bring treats, and lots of them.

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