Monday, December 6, 2010

What a girl needs...

Saturday night marked the end of one phase of my life, and the beginning of another. For the last five years, when someone asked me, "So what do you do?" I would proudly respond, "Oh, I'm the head women's soccer coach for a university team." It was easy for me to find pride in my answer because, for as long as I can remember, almost all of my answers to personal interests had often been about athletics in some way. What I could do on a court or on a field has been who I am as a person.

My enthusiasm about team sports is not going away, but I have sensed, in the last few years, a pull to pursue other things. I need to put my energy into creation rather than competition.

The last few weeks and months leading up to the actual "end" of my time as a college coach have been emotionally interesting. I have been working to identify what it is I am going to miss about coaching. I have identified what I am NOT going to miss.

I am not going to miss my hour-long-one-way commute.
I am not going to miss the time spent away from my family.
I am not going to miss the busy paperwork and organizational requirements.
I am not going to miss balancing a budget or planning the details.

What I am going to miss is this:

I will miss the girls. Simply...that's what I will miss. As I swim through the emotions of missing the team, I finally found some words to talk about how I am shifting to my next role. Below is part of the banquet speech. I know it is a cathartic start to my next stage in life, and I know I have made the right decision. Here is what I told the team...

My coaching husband has struggled with my decision to step down probably just as much as I have, but the fact that he is coaching tonight, and unable to be here, is just one example of how divided our family has become with our multiple seasons. He knows how hard this decision has been for me, and he has patiently nodded through my tears.****My disclaimer about what I am about to say is this…I know I have some guys in my house who may feel a little excluded, but sometimes it really is just a girl thing****

I see my daughters in all of you. I hope they grow up to be like you ladies in so many ways. You have big hearts. You care deeply and laugh hard. You manage to create good out of frustration, and I love that about you.

When you coach women…there are tears. There are tears when we’re hurt, there are tears when we are frustrated or angry, there are tears when we lose, and there are tears when we’re happy. When I played, I was better about keeping those tears hidden, but they were always there. It is only when you feel safe, that tears can come so easily. Crying marks those life moments. When something is big enough to make you cry, it’s because you have laid yourself out there, and tears simply happen. You first have to care enough to be moved to tears, and I can hardly express to you how much I have cared about this team. That’s probably a big part of the reason why I know it is time for me to stop this level of coaching for a while. I have been pulled toward a new set of tears. The pair of girls who make up the Frank daughter team are starting to care big enough to cry. The difference between daughter tears and player tears is simple. Players have an entire team on whom to lean…and a team like this one is a safe place to do that. Remember…you can have a team without a coach, but you can’t have a coach without a team.

Daughters, on the other hand, hope to lean on their moms (for a few years anyway), and there is no way to call in a sub for that one. Someone asked me the other day, “Aren’t you going to miss soccer?” My answer is this, “It’s not soccer I’ll miss…I can get to the game of soccer a million different ways, but what I will miss is what happens in the intimate relationships of a team…those tearful, growing moments. That’s what I’ll miss from this group…but I want to have a chance at that intimate relationship with my own girls. I love you girls, I really do…ALL the girls in my life!! The big ones and the little ones.