On the first day of tryouts.
I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting today to come, the first day of your season. I’ve watched your excitement build. I’ve driven you to practices, workouts, and countless stores for gear. I’ve nervously watched you drive off with your newly licensed friends to preseason events. I bought you team logo’d apparel that you proudly wear every chance you get. I wrote the checks for you to play. I’ve seen you work hard, I’ve seen you slack off because there were other things grabbing your attention. I’ve seen your strengths, I know where you struggle.
I see the anxiety of the day behind your eyes and your nervous smile. I know you’re worried about how you will perform, how the other players will like you, how your coach will like you. I know you’re worried if you’ll be in good enough shape to handle what’s expected. I know you’re worried about messing up in front of people, of making mistakes, of letting people down. I know that you love this game, that you play because it’s something you enjoy, the challenge, the team atmosphere, the friendships, the competition. I know that more than anything you want to feel like you have succeeded, that you can master new things, that you can make us proud.
Here’s what you need to know. I’m already proud of you. I already think you’re one of the best. There will be days that you feel like you did nothing right, and when you come home you will find someone who just loves to watch you do your thing, to watch you play. Your teammates and your coach may be hard on you, you may struggle, you may make the wrong choices sometimes, you may fall – repeatedly. You have my support, you have my unending desire to help you figure out how to navigate the sea of ups and downs that come with playing sports. You have my promise that I will listen, that I will love you through whatever comes, but that I won’t allow you to justify poor decisions with excuses or blame.
Your worth does not lie inside of what you do, how you perform, if you win, if you make a certain team, how much playing time you get, or what awards or stats come your way. Those things are for your own goals and ambitions, but are not what makes up a mother’s love. There is no failure on the field that can take that away.
I expect you to work hard, to respect your teammates, coaches, opponents, and officials. To stick up for the ones that cannot stick up for themselves, to help those who struggle and need help, and to hold true to your beliefs no matter what pressures come your way. My hope is that your value will come from living out who you are on the inside, and not from the opinions of your teammates or coaches. That your decisions will be based on character and values and not on emotions or outside influences, and I will be there to help you learn how to do that along the way. Your coaches, teammates, officials, opponents, teachers, classmates, will all have opinions about you. None of those opinions define you, none of those opinions should change who you are.
My hope for you is that at the end of your high school playing career, you’ve built memories, friendships, a love of competition, the tools to overcome and learn from mistakes and defeat, and the drive to reach for something that is outside of your comfort zone. I hope that you bring your incredible, unique personality into the team, to help build the foundation that great teams are made of, and that you never feel like you have to change who you are to make others happy. I hope that at the end of it all, you are glad you played, you remember the friendships and not the scores, and that you move on to the next chapter with anticipation, firm in your other interests, and just a touch of sadness at saying goodbye.