Saving the world with volleyball

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, January 8, 2002, 12:39 AM | comments: 0

A couple of months into my unemployment, which has really become more of a step toward self-employment, I've been a little stressed on and off. I suppose it's more the uncertainty than anything else. I'm still eating and paying the mortgage, I'm just having to put off that trip to Hawaii.

However, now that I've started coaching volleyball again, I'm quickly finding reality to be, well, pretty damn good. It might in part be a self-defense mechanism, but when you find that there is something that makes you feel good about life, you dive in head first. For me, the thing that has brought about balance is coaching volleyball to high school kids.

In my case, I coach ten 17-year old girls from various Cleveland-area high schools under the organization of USA volleyball (junior Olympic, they call it). There are really two things that endlessly satisfy me. The first is the connection you make. For "kids," they sure do teach you a lot, and they offer relationships that are something of a mix of parent-child, teacher-student and of course, coach-athlete. With such a long season, you really get to know these kids. The second thing is that they look up to you and learn. The result is these amazing things that they do, in part because of the motivation and instruction you provide. To me it's like seeing a skyscraper you designed.

This year in particular is exciting because there's no telling what these kids are capable of. This will be my fourth year coaching, and they're the most talented bunch I've ever seen. If the glue dries and the bonds are strong, these girls will do things no one expected. I love being a part of that.

Being a part of that, the uncertainty of "real life" isn't so bad. It's weird, but the positive energy I get from volleyball makes me appreciate my wife, my house and the basic chance to exist a lot more.

In the long run, I might have some positive little impact on the lives of those kids, but I don't think they'll ever understand what they do for me.


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