This week marked the end of my daughter MiKayla’s basketball career. I watched as tears poured down her face as she shot her last free throw. Her body shook as she sat on the bench as the final seconds ticked off the clock.Tears poured down my face as she left the basketball court for the last time. I kept thinking, “This is about so many things. This is about so many incredible relationships, moments, lessons, experiences, and this incredible season of her life.”
After the game, it took my baby girl a long time to emerge from the locker room. As I was hugging her, her tears continued. Her body still was shaking some. Yet, I was very thankful that she was letting her body release all that she was feeling. I remember after volleyball was over, and MiKayla told me, “Mom, I think it will all hit me when basketball is over.” I think she was exactly right. I think it was truly all hitting her.
MiKayla’s two basketball coaches, Coach Davis and Harper have been rocks in her life as they both were in my daughter Kylee’s life. Their presence, love, and support have been crucial during the worst times of my girls’ lives. The very month that my husband died in August 2011 is when Coach Davis arrived at our school to begin his coaching career in our community. I remember Kylee coming home and being very excited after she had met her new coach. She was also impressed that he had brought his family with him and introduced them to the girls. Kylee loved his emphasis on family and his ideas and goals for their team. Kylee was so excited.
I remember stopping and talking to Coach Davis for the first time. I wanted to introduce myself, and I wanted to make sure that he knew that Kylee’s dad had just died. I was thankful to hear that Kylee felt open and comfortable and that she had already shared that with him. Sometimes I think that gets misunderstood by others. It is a priority for me to share what has happened with my girls not because I want any “special treatment” for them. It is a priority for me so that the key people in their life will be working from a base of understanding of what they are experiencing and of what they have experienced. It is important for the people in all of our lives including yours 🙂 to understand where we are coming from so that if there is a trigger or a reaction or something that happens that does not make sense then they are able to go back to what they know and perhaps understand where it is coming from. I encourage you to share your experiences with the people that are key in your own life as well.
I have been able to witness the powerful influence that coaches have over their players throughout my life. My dad had shared with me when I was younger how influential coaches had been in his own life. I remember him telling me that if it would not have been for the coach in his life when he was young who encouraged him and helped him to get involved in sports that he did not know what he would have ended up doing in his life. My dad had a very successful sports career throughout his school years and was doing such an incredible job that he was offered a full ride at the university that he was planning to attend for sports. From what my dad has shared with me, I think when he saw the influence that his coaches had on his life that it inspired him to become a coach himself. I watched my dad throughout the years positively influence numerous young people as a coach and as a teacher. It is always such a blessing to witness when someone is able to identify who and what blessed and encouraged them in their own lives and then to witness them take what they were given and to watch them give it back to so many more. I saw throughout my entire life the powerful influence that coaches have. I am thankful for what a positive influence and role model that my dad has been to many young people. I am thankful for the coaches that positively influenced me.
After my only son PK was instantly killed at the age of 18 in a car accident in June 2013 only 22 months after my husband died, then I remember spending a lot of time reflecting on the numerous wonderful people that positively influenced his life. I remember preparing to speak at his funeral and having a deep desire to thank each one of them that I was able to. His coaches were definitely a key part of his life and who I wanted to thank. (The video of what I said at PK’s funeral is on my youtube channel if you would like to watch it.) Whether it was his very first tee ball coach Wesley Fletcher and all his pee wee coaches, to his incredible junior high and high school coaches to his AAU coaches, all of these coaches had a tremendous impact on my son and on his life. I am ever grateful to each one for loving my son, for believing in him, and for pushing him. My son’s precious life was cut way too short, but I will always be grateful for the wonderful experiences that each of these coaches provided for him. He loved each one, and I sure always will.
I remember Coach Bennett and his staff who led PK’s junior high team to their conference championship. PK could not have been prouder. PK’s AAU coaches were with him beginning in 6th grade and the joy and fun that he had with his Coach Corey and Ronte through the years was such an incredible blessing in PK’s life. When PK had the opportunity to play for Coach Corliss Williamson (former Razorback, NBA player including Kings, Pistons, 76ers, Raptors, and now asst coach for Orlando Magic) and Coach Marcus McCarroll, he was so inspired that the spring/summer between his 7th and 8th years he lost 40 lbs and worked and practiced like I had never seen him work before. When PK lost his dad right before his sophomore year, then there was incredible Coach Dave Williams and his wonderful staff, Chester, Housh, Rush, Wellman, and all, standing with PK, helping him and encouraging him not just in football but in his life. In basketball throughout junior high and high school and when PK’s team made it to the final four in state the spring before he was killed, then there were Coach Brewington and Sharp being such an important part of his life as well. Each of these coaches made an impact on my son’s life… I am ever grateful.
I remember telling them all at the funeral to always remember the tremendous impact that they each have had and are having on so many young people… it is truly a blessing to reflect on these coaches and the gift that they each were in my son’s life that was cut way too short. A coach’s influence is so powerful and is so far reaching.
My two incredible daughters have had the blessings of many wonderful coaches in their lives from their pee wee coaches to their AAU and JO coaches to their junior high and high school coaches. They have shared some of the same coaches, and I have been so thankful for each coach that has had such a positive impact in their lives.
Coach Davis (in the feature picture with my girls 🙂 ) came to our school 6 1/2 years ago… the very month that my precious children’s daddy died. He has encouraged, cared about, and supported my girls in such loving ways. He again has stood beside them while they next had to also grieve the death of their only brother. To have such a consistent, positive, caring male role model in their lives during their pain and trauma is priceless, and he will never understand the difference that he has made in their lives and how they have needed him. I have been so thankful through these past 6 1/2 years for the priceless gift he is in their lives.
Coach will not be happy about public recognition as he is such a humble man. When he received the “Regional tournament Championship Coach’s trophy” and I was trying to find out the exact name then he was trying to tell me to focus on our team and not on him. These were his exact words to me: “This is all about these girls because they’ve worked their tails off to achieve the things they’ve accomplished this year and it should always be all about them. I would never want any focus taken away from them unless it’s something negative and then please put all on me. This is their show and their moment, not ever mine. The reward I get is just like a parent’s joy of their kids. I celebrate in their glory and that is always the only reward that I want.” I was not surprised with his words as that is exactly how I have seen him live these last 6 1/2 years. He truly celebrates his team and wants them to be rewarded. To you Coach Davis, I just want to say thank you for being such a wonderful coach to my girls and to our team. Thank you for believing in them, teaching them, caring about them, supporting them, and truly celebrating the incredible young women that they are!! You are making a difference in their lives!! We love you coach and we thank God for you!! I don’t know if you will understand what a crucial role you have played in my two daughters’ lives. I see it. I see it every time Kylee comes home from her university and gets to hug you and talk to you. I see it in MiKayla every time she tells me your words and as I have had the privilege of watching you both interact on the court. Thank you with all of my heart. Your role has and will continue to be priceless.
Coach Ashley Harper has been such a blessing on and off of the court to my two girls, our team, and to so many others!! The love and support that she pours into my girls’ lives and our team means the world to all of us! She truly has the gifts of encouragement and compassion and these shine through her every day! Thank you for caring about each area of their lives and for teaching them and cheering them on through all things. Thank you for celebrating their victories and successes and standing with them and loving them through some of life’s hardest seasons. You have and continue to truly make a difference in my girls’ lives. Thank you. Never underestimate the influence you have!! We love you and thank God for you every single day!!
Coach Ali Brooks and Martha Holt have been volleyball coaches for the last several years and have made great improvements to our program and have believed in MiKayla and helped her so much. I believe they both truly love my girl. We sure love and thank both of you. Coach Nikki (JO volleyball) and Coach Hoffman (AAU basketball) loved my girls, pushed them, and taught them so many different things. We are so thankful to each of you and love you very much.
Kylee’s track coaches Coach Casey and staff and Coach KP and now Coach Ethan from her University and the coaching staff at the University have and are continuing to challenge Kylee in so many ways. We are ever thankful for your encouragement and lessons and how this has carried over into Kylee’s college years!! 🙂
The list could still continue. If I did not name you and you coached one of my children, then please forgive me. Each of you have been such a crucial part of my childrens’ lives. Your impact has been significant. I thank you each individually and as a group from the bottom of my heart. I will always be grateful for your leadership, your teaching, your examples, your encouragement, your pushing, and every single moment that you gave that had an impact on my beloved childrens’ lives… this mom thanks you with all of her heart!! May God continue to bless each of you as you continue to mold and shape the lives of our young people. I truly love each one of you. Thank you.
“A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.” Billy Graham
Oh how thankful I am for each of you that have positively impacted ours!! So much love to each of you.