… but also a place to learn some of life’s lessons.
Last weekend we went to a volleyball tournament of sixth grade teams in Chicago. It included two teams from Coco’s school, one of which is coached by DD. Neither team won it all, but both won some of their games.
DD says that in fifth and sixth grade, volleyball isn’t about winning. You are teaching the girls the rules of the game and possibly a love of the game. Then, if they like it and have an aptitude for it, they can go on to play on competitive teams in the higher grades. I love that idea.
But, DD and the other coaches at her childrens’ grade school really act out this concept, not just talk it.
There are eighteen girls in sixth grade who play volleyball, all at varying stages of development of their skills and interest. That number of girls means that there need to be two teams so that everyone can play. And, apparently, those two teams are fluid — the girls aren’t always divided up the same way. I say that because I know that before the Saturday tournament, they were re-divided so that they were as even in talent as possible. For example, the girls who have developed the skill to serve overhand (including Coco) were divided evenly between the teams.
As we were sitting there watching the teams play it occurred to me that each girl on these teams, no matter what her talent level is, is learning some valuable lessons. Because the teams aren’t divided as an “A” and “B” team, with the “A” team being the one with all the best players on it, all the girls will experience winning and losing, together and equally.
In all my years “in the bleachers” I have observed that a team or player who doesn’t have much experience losing, can fall apart if they start losing. And a team or player who hardly ever wins, may have trouble picturing themselves winning, so sometimes mentally defeat themselves. But in this grade school’s system all of the players are experiencing the high of winning and the disappointment of losing, and seeing clearly demonstrated that there are time that there are actually more important priorities than winning.
A great lesson that will hold them in good stead in the future in all areas of their lives, not just volleyball.
Of course, we are proud of Coco, and she is blessed with some natural talent. But, I am especially proud of our daughter, Coach DD. When I watch her on the sidelines I see our always competitive daughter very successfully putting her competitiveness aside and just being a great encourager and teacher of young girls who may or may not go on to play the game, but who will hopefully have great memories of their time on her team.