Let me just get one thing straight right away: I’m not a fan of yours. Maybe if we got to know each other outside of the school gym, in a situation that had nothing to do with sports or my daughter, I might grow to like you. But as it stands right now, my entire relationship with you revolves around me sitting in the bleachers wincing as you scream and yell at the girls on your team, stomp your feet, pound your fists on the walls, and argue with the referees. It’s cringeworthy on so many levels.

But despite all of this, despite the fact that I don’t agree with your tactics, your approach, your focus on winning above all else, or your behavior as a representative of our school, I want to say thank you.

Thank you for being the kind of coach who ignores the second-string players and only focuses on his starters, even in practice. Your disinterest in my daughter during practice and lack of willingness to spend time showing her how to improve has forced her to speak up for herself and demand to be noticed.

Thank you for being the kind of coach who is so focused on winning you will only play your best five or six players, forcing the other girls to sit on the bench night, after night, even when your team is up by 30 points. Your “win at all costs” attitude has led my daughter to examine what good sportsmanship looks like to her and stand tall knowing she showed up to support her team, even if she wasn’t treated like part of it by her coach.

Thank you for screaming at your players when they make a mistake, no matter how much they are doing right or how hard they’re trying. Listening to you yell at her and her teammates has given my daughter courage and resolve to do her best without needing positive reinforcement from her coach.

Thank you for speaking ill of other teams and arguing with referees in front of my girl. It’s allowed her to realize that not every adult models what we teach, and forced her to examine her own behavior to ensure she represents her school with dignity, compassion, and respect, even in the heat of competition.

Thank you for continuing your horrendous behavior night after night, without apology or remorse. While we are typically a family of “you committed to this, you see it through”, playing on your team has been the first big exception. We offered our daughter the option to quit your team more than once, fully prepared to support her no matter what. As you know, she has chosen to stay, because she loves the game that darn much. This, in turn, allowed us to have some meaningful conversations with her, and gave her a chance to take back the power from you, standing firm that she would not be pushed into quitting a game she loves because of one person.

So while I will never agree with your methods, or be a fan of yours, in the last two years I have observed my daughter feeling her way into the person she wants to be, rooting herself in perseverance, hard work, and kindness. I’ve watched her stand tall with resolve and resiliency, knowing who she is and what she’s capable of, without affirmation from others. And for those reasons—way more than her skills with a ball—I am her biggest fan.

The mother of one good ball player-turned outstanding human being

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