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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What is the deal?

As volleyball season is a week away, I am very, very excited at the prospects coming back, looking forward to meeting the incoming freshmen, and putting it all together for another run at a state championship. Looking at the rising juniors and returning Varsity girls, I can't wait to see what my months of brainstorming on what I could do to get us that final pearl, that seemingly unattainable feat for this young program who has been denied the blue banner on the wall for three straight years. And as many of us athletes know, once you get a taste of something great, something amazing...that number one ranking and state champion title...you want it more than anything the next time around.

But there is a dark, ominous cloud shadowing my excitement: the ugliness of uncertainty has been rearing its head in the rumor mill. My staff and I have heard all shades of "so-and-so isn't coming back to play next season." After a perfectly fabulous season, great team chemistry, and few intra-team issues....what??!?!?!

What is with the uncertainty? Why don't athletes want to continue playing in the program? This situation isn't isolated to my team or this season, so what's the deal?

Is it positioning? The classic "I should have played that spot instead of her" syndrome?

Is it loss of interest? The old "I don't like playing anymore" issue?

Is it conflicts with teammates or coaches? The ever-present "She doesn't like me/I don't like her" debacle?

While all of those are possible (or probable), I feel that they are all parts of a pervasive issue that is creating weaker, less able kids that believe they should get everything they want when they want it.

My generation (and those before me) were raised with the idea that you finish what you start, you don't question authority, and hard work will pay off in the long run. What is the deal with these athletes? They're not bad kids. They are respectful...to my face. They do work hard. If they didn't, my teams wouldn't be as successful as they were. But on what planet to they think that difference of opinion, be it coach-wise or teammate-wise, isn't going to exist?

Maybe a forum should be presented every year to every kid and parent involved in school and any after-school activities. The theme would be this: working hard and dealing with conflict are parts of becoming a well-rounded, productive adult. Not everyone can be the best. Not everyone wins 1st place. Not everyone is a starting athlete. Not everyone wins the award. And sometimes it isn't fair (or what you deem as fair). But if you quit, and give in, then the person you thought was wrong wins. What could be worse than losing...twice...to your worst enemy??

Maybe I'm totally off-base and there is a plague of disinterest running rampant around my county. But I can't help but question what is making so many kids stop playing a sport they've played for years for seemingly no reason.

All I can say is that there are few people in this world that have ever said that they were sad or wrong for finishing what they started. Not many would say that a difficult situation made them weaker or hurt them beyond repair. The majority would say that sticking to something proved they could do anything they put their minds to and, in the end, they were better for it.

I can't imagine what my life would be like if I didn't play because I disagreed with my coaches, or if I stopped because I had a teammate who didn't like me, or if I stopped because I didn't think I liked playing anymore. I would have missed out on so much...and I would have more regrets than anything else.

SO why don't these kids want to be better people?!? Or a part of a great experience? And most importantly put a State Championship banner on the wall????

Note to self: Apparently winning 4 straight Regional titles isn't enough. Obviously embarrassing a cocky home-team to advance to the playoffs isn't enough. Clearly having two energetic, athletic, and knowledgeable coaches isn't enough. Research what x factor is missing to retain kids in the program.

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