Thursday, February 16, 2017


A few lifetimes ago, when I was a lass, I had a coach who was, unquestionably, one of my greatest teachers. She coached our softball team for four years. In that time, I was voted MVP every year. I was the smallest player on the team. I was also one of the most natural. As in, my talents for the game came quite easily. I was fast, had a smokin' hot arm, and no fear. I played shortstop. I was also the lead batter. Which is to say, I led the lineup because I could hit and get on base most of the time. In short, I was one badass ball player.

At the beginning, when Coach first took on the job, she recognized my talent and she pushed me. HARD. When everyone else was allowed three errors before having to "take a lap", I was not. I had to take a lap around the entire field for every error I made. Like I said. She pushed hard. I remember how much I disliked her for that. I remember wanting to quit. I remember thinking she was out to get me. But I didn't quit. I was too stubborn to quit. My mission: to prove her wrong. To prove to her that I was the best. Now, looking back all those years ago, I realize that was precisely why she did what she did. She knew. She saw who I was. She knew exactly how to get me to grow.

One of the things I did that drove her insane was throw side-arm. I could run at the ball, scoop it up at a dead run, and toss it to first base without missing a beat. Problem was, it didn't always get there. The side-arm was wild. Not nearly as accurate as throwing over the shoulder. But it didn't feel natural to me. No matter how many laps I had to take, I just couldn't seem to make the switch. All the while, between when she started working with me on that toss, and when I finally got it, there were three words she'd yell, at the top of her lungs, any time I missed the throw. Those three words were:


She insisted that if I took those two seconds, I could get my proper stance, think about how I was going to throw, and actually hit my target. She was trying to break a habit. I was fighting her. Eventually, though, I got tired of all those laps and decided to listen to her guidance. All it took was for me to decide. Once I did, and I followed her instruction, my accuracy increased tenfold. Those two seconds made all the difference in the world. Hence, the MVP awards.

Now, decades later, I can still hear her voice. Sometimes I wake up in the dead of night, with those words echoing in my head. Usually there are also tears rolling down my face. And I always know that the words are coming to me because there's something I'm not paying attention to. Something that is demanding my attention, and I'm either ignoring or not hearing. Always, it is something important. Always, it is the sound of her voice that wakes me up.

To this day, I am profoundly grateful to Coach. She impacted me in so many ways that, even now, I can call on her wisdom whenever I am in need. We spent many years together, she and I. Because... she was my sister. She was the one who knew me better than I knew myself. She left us last year. But still I can hear her voice.


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