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Last week I shared about our son, Thomas, deciding to quit so close to finishing his Junior Black Belt and how much my husband and I struggled with that.

This week’s story is also about Thomas, but this time, a Coach tried to end his sporting career 😤.

If you want to come face to face with a mama bear in rampage mode, try telling her her child isn’t good enough. Or a Dad for that matter, I’m not sure which is more terrifying.

In elementary school, Thomas was enjoying the team dynamic of volleyball and basketball as another way to express his strengths and competitive nature (so curious where he got that from 🤔…)

He was excited to continue those sports in high school and I was ecstatic for him to follow in my footsteps, playing volleyball and basketball through to graduation. My name is on the top athlete trophy in the glass case at my high school today, and he was going to love sports the way I did so I could live it all again through him.

At least that was my story. A very strong story 🙄.

After a successful Grade 8 volleyball season, basketball tryouts began. It was just another step to another sport and another season. There were a huge number of Grade 8 boys that year in a large high school, but that didn’t matter. Our boys are both very athletic and work hard to do their best even if it’s not THE best.

Then I got the text.

“I didn’t make the team.”

My heart sank and it felt hard to breathe. I needed to run to my baby, scoop up his broken heart and hug him until the pieces healed back together. Or was it my heart that was broken?

My tears started and I couldn’t stop while driving between client appointments that afternoon.

This was the end. Some jerk coach had the nerve to tell my son he wasn’t good enough and was ending his high school basketball career before it started. Are you kidding me? We all know if your child misses a year in high school they rarely make the team the following year. The gap is too big to make up.

I was in complete denial this could happen, so far from my expectations.

When I finished my last client that day, I texted Thomas and asked if he wanted to go for hot chocolate. Sitting across from him as he licked the whipped cream off the top of his drink, I could barely hold my tears and my voice was shaking. Seeing his sullen face, I could only imagine what was going on in his gorgeous, ginger head.

Me: “How are you doing?”

My son: “Pretty crappy ‘cause I’ve never not made a team. Then I thought of my other friends who didn’t make the volleyball team this year and now I know how they felt.”

Me: “Yup, it’s hard.” *Insert SUPER proud mama moment as our son expressed empathy in a moment he was hurting*

We talked for about half an hour as he slurped his drink and I sipped my tea. I remember thinking that what I said in these moments had weight, so choose wisely.

Here were my key points:

  • Just because someone else decides you don’t measure up to their standard doesn’t mean you failed or are less of a person. This same situation will likely happen again in school, sports or work and who you are inside doesn’t change.
  • It doesn’t mean that other person is RIGHT
  • Only YOU decide your value and your worth. No one else, ever.
  • You have the right to respectfully disagree and ask for another chance.
    • If you really want to play, ask coach for another shot.
    • Ask to practice with the team and be a sub if they need.
    • Be the manager so you learn by watching and stay connected to the sport
    • Practice with Dad and me this season and you’ll have a chance next year
  • This door may be closing but look around to see what doors are opening

We rarely talked about that day since or how he feels about it now.

As luck would have it, the huge number of juniors wanting to play basketball was Thomas’s gift. There were enough players and Coaches for a B Team, so he got to play in grades 9-11 when he decided to focus on Volleyball. I guess my story of doom and the end of his basketball career wasn’t entirely true.

What did I learn through that time?

  • My high school athletic career was one of the best times of my life, and I can remember those years fondly without needing our sons to relive them for me.
  • Things will happen that feel so painful, and I have no control over what our son’s internalize about those moments, even if I’m the best support I can be.
  • No matter how far what’s happening is from my expectations, I can’t see the future or the opportunities that will show up.
  • This isn’t about me.
  • Breathe and trust.

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