First of all, a little background on our daughter, DD, “the coach.” So that you can pick out which one she is in this photo, let me just say that in college she believed you could never be too tan or have too much hair. So, I probably don’t even have to bother to tell you she is third from the left. Hair and tan aside though, she was a very good, verrrrry competitive player.
But since her very tan/big hair college days, DD has married, has had three daughters, has had a successful career in Human Resources and Training with several companies, and has matured alot. And she is specifically applying her maturity and life experiences to her volunteer “second job,” coaching 5th grade volleyball at her childrens’ school.
Three years ago, DD did have a full-time job, but her office was at home and her time was flexible, so she began coaching 5th grade volleyball at the parochial grade school Coco and Lulu attend. And, at some point, because of all the time her girls ended up spending at the gym while she coached, she promised Coco that she would coach her in volleyball when she got to 5th grade.
Then last January, DD was offered a traditional go-to-the-office-every-day job with a company where she had previously worked. She really wanted to take the job, but one of the things that was a concern to her was that, taking it would mean she wouldn’t be able to keep her promise to Coco to coach her in volleyball. Luckily, the company’s CEO knew DD and knew that she was the person he really wanted as his VP of Human Resources, so he offered her a deal — if she would take the job, she could work flexible hours during the volleyball season so that she could still coach the team! She took the job.
Consequently, DD is coaching Coco this year, and they are both really enjoying it. And, Coach DD doesn’t have to worry about hearing “she’s the coach’s kid, so she gets to play more” about Coco, because there are rules in place for fifth grade games that make “favoritism” impossible — each player can only make five serves in a row, everyone gets to play, etc.
So yesterday, Papa and I drove to Chicago to see Coco play and DD coach. And, of course, we would get to see Lulu and Mimi and “King” George too!
Here’s Coach, and her little “biggest fan,” Mimi. I asked Mimi if she was going to play volleyball when she gets old enough, and she said she was.
As soon as the previous game was finished, Coach DD gathered her team, the Panthers, on the floor to warm up. Coco is the red head who is closest to the camera.
First, they did some serving practice.
And then Coach DD set balls for each girl who, hopefully, hit the ball over. But whether the girl did or not, she then chased down the ball and returned it to the bin, before going to the back of the line to wait for her next turn.
After the period of warm-up, the teams huddled and the Panthers did a “Go, Fight, Win!” kind of yell and the game began.
During the game, there was lots of encouragement from the bench. Unfortunately, the “photographer” just didn’t get any pictures of Coach DD standing on the sidelines constantly yelling instruction and encouragement to her team. Let’s be truthful, the photographer got interested in watching the game herself, and kind of forgot to take pictures of anything but Coco. What’s the matter with the photographer anyway? Here is at least a picture of DD coachng during a time out.
The pictures I did take, pretty much featuring Coco.
They didn’t win this game. But, Coach has well prepared them (and their parents) for that. They are a pretty good team for fifth graders, but she constantly reminds them and their parents that fifth grade volleyball isn’t about winning. It’s about having an opportunity to learn the game, and finding out whether they enjoy the game. Then, if they do find out they like it, they can worry about wins and loses and being “competitive” in the future.
I am really proud of DD and how she handles these little girls. I felt like I could actually see them bask in her constant encouragement. As she said to me, she is trying to teach them things like sportsmanship and losing gracefully, that will apply in lots of areas of their lives, besides sports.
And, after the game. After they had slapped hands with the other team and told them, good job. Both teams, went down to the end of the hall, where there was a prayer posted on the wall, and they all read it together. I wish I had thought to take a picture of the prayer because I don’t remember what it said, but I do remember that it didn’t say anything like, “Please help us win!”
When DD was a high school senior, it was obvious that she was a great mentor to younger girls. And, I’m seeing that trait again in how she is handling these little girls. She is being a good mentor, whether they continue playing volleyball or not. Good work, Coach DD.
One more thing, regarding that “near death experience?” I was sitting in the stands talking and not paying attention, while the teams were warming up. All of a sudden, I looked up and saw this!
Well, actually this is a “reenactment.” The real event had “George’s” hand between my face and the ball!
An errant ball was apparently headed straight for my face and I didn’t see it. But, George, who has lightening quick reflexes, reached up and caught it with his hand right before it hit me! Thank you, George.
After the game, we went to watch Lulu’s gymnastics practice, but I didn’t get any pictures of that because it was in a huge building, and we had to watch from way across the room, from behind glass. But here is a picture of her and Mimi schmoozing with Papa after the volleyball game.
And here’s one I took when I saw Lulu studying this sign. I imagine the colorful sign caught her eye because she is very interested in drawing and she was probably using her “artist’s eye,” looking at how it was drawn and what colors were used.
It was a great day spent with DD and her family.