Good decisions that turned out to be all wrong

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 29, 2003, 4:41 PM | comments: 1
I had a chat with one of my volleyball kids today. She's doing very well in a very difficult engineering school on the east coast and she's playing volleyball on top of that. Her story, however, goes all the way back to 2001.

In 2001, she was a sophomore in high school. I was coaching 16 club that year and it was my first year coaching a JO team. She was my setter, and I think her and I were pretty close, as I generally am with setters because they pretty much run things on the court.

The next year I did 17 open, and had a chance to have her on my team again. At the same time, I gained another setter who was, quite frankly, pretty amazing. I made the decision early on to have the new girl set for me and reassign my first girl to other roles.

This wasn't terrible at first, and she didn't seem to mind it that much. However, the two frequently clashed, and the new girl's ego and attitude got to be almost too much to bear at times. I stood by the arrangement though, because I felt it was best for the team, and certainly in the best interest of the girls.

Years later, I see that I made a pretty horrible mistake. Both girls went to college, but one lives at home, commutes and despite her amazing talent hasn't done shit with it, and will never play college volleyball. In fact, our club director even went out of her way to get her noticed last year, and she blew it off, ungrateful.

The first girl, however, as I said, went away to school and plays for that team. Yeah, it's Division III NCAA ball, but she's going to break the school ace record and ranks nationally. All this while holding down an insane schedule of engineering classes. That says a lot about how amazing she is.

What makes this so painful to me (not to mention how it went for her), is that I totally ignored the character of these two back when I coached them, and thought only about what I thought, at the time, was good for the team. In some ways I nearly crushed one and overlooked the flaws of another, when all along I should've done the opposite.

The one saving grace is that both got what they deserved in the end. The problem is that it has made me see so many things differently, all at once, about the responsibility you have to these kids. In some ways I failed them both, and I have to live with that.

It's easy to say it's "just volleyball" and they were "just in high school," but anyone who tells me that they weren't deeply affected by events in that period of their life is totally full of shit.


Stephanie, October 1, 2003, 4:04 AM #

I think you're focusing on what you perceive is the negative aspect to your decision. Maybe she became the person she is today because of the decision you made. Maybe she challenged herself and pushed her limitations. And that's definitely a good thing.

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