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#1 Scoutermom

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 10:34 AM

I want to blog but I'm not a blogger. I want to share my experiences but I don't have a large social circle. So, if you will indulge me, I think I'll write my coaching experiences here and satisfy my needs while (hopefully) entertaining you in the process.

 

__

 

Here's my first installment:

 

Net Talk or

My life as a first year D3 collegiate tennis coach -

 

Anyone can coach. This is something I've heard multiple times in the last few years. It has a variety of meanings and I often think about the implications of those words and how they apply to real life. My life.

 

The coaching seed was planted back in the spring of 1985 when I first joined the Sierra High School tennis team. I remember the first time I met the coach. She had long blond hair, stunning green eyes, and a white VW Cabrio convertible. She wasn't the greatest tennis player (I honestly don't remember anything about her ability to play tennis) but I remember her and how she made me feel. I remember being a part of the team (or not, as was the case sometimes, but that's another story). I watched her and thought "I could do that. What a fun job that would be."

 

With high school studies, planning on and attending college, and then life...well, coaching became just another dream.

 

Until now. Yes, I have been a USPTA certified Pro, taught tennis, and captained USTA teams but I haven't coached a team. There has never been anything on the line more than teaching skills, filling classes, and having fun. With coaching, it's about the skills, abilities, experiences, and competitions of others. I find this to be a weighty responsibility. I want to be a person who can teach, correct, communicate, and inspire. I want my players to grow, improve, and find joy in tennis. I don't want to call myself a coach, imparting a moniker or title just to satisfy my ego. I want my players, my mentors, my colleagues...those who truly matter... to help me become a coach. I want to earn the title.

 

And that is what I have been working toward earning this past week. I told my players that if they would give me 100%, I would give them 100%. I believe we have all been striving toward that goal and I couldn't ask for more than what these women have given. To be honest, I am terrified I will fail them. That I am not enough. But then I see them rising to my challenges and giving their all day after day and I am empowered to try, to work harder at being the person I want to be, to earn their respect and the right to be called their coach.

 


Edited by Scoutermom, 26 August 2017 - 10:41 AM.

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#2 MerryAtHope

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 12:16 PM

I totally think you should set up a blog! It's not hard to do (places like blogger.com have preset formats--you just choose one, enter your title and go pretty much!) Great title, and I hope your team does well.


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#3 JanetC

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 01:25 PM

You will also have to recruit new players, and having a blog could help attract players who are a good fit. Maybe the athletic department would host it.
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#4 Scoutermom

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 04:18 PM

You will also have to recruit new players, and having a blog could help attract players who are a good fit. Maybe the athletic department would host it.

True. I'll speak to my AD on Monday.  Good idea.


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#5 snowbeltmom

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 07:26 PM

There is a blog called Division III Tennis - Let the Rackets Do the Talking.  The blog has writers from regions throughout the country writing about men's tennis.  The bloggers have been trying to recruit writers who are involved in the women's D III tennis.  You may want to contact them.  It is a fantastic blog and very popular in the D3 tennis world.

 

Good luck to your team! 


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#6 Scoutermom

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 08:20 PM

There is a blog called Division III Tennis - Let the Rackets Do the Talking.  The blog has writers from regions throughout the country writing about men's tennis.  The bloggers have been trying to recruit writers who are involved in the women's D III tennis.  You may want to contact them.  It is a fantastic blog and very popular in the D3 tennis world.

 

Good luck to your team! 

Thank you for the information. I will check on it tonight.

 

 :)



#7 snowbeltmom

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 03:45 AM

Thank you for the information. I will check on it tonight.

 

  :)

I forgot to mention that the blog added a feature last year called the Recruiting Hub.  This provides an opportunity for coaches to provide information about their schools and their tennis programs.  You should email D3 Atlantic South if you are interested in being featured.


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#8 Scoutermom

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 08:13 AM

I have checked out the website and it is definitely centered on men's tennis programs. I sent an email to the general email address so now I'll wait and see if I get a reply.



#9 snowbeltmom

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 11:16 AM

I have checked out the website and it is definitely centered on men's tennis programs. I sent an email to the general email address so now I'll wait and see if I get a reply.

 

While the bloggers are anonymous, it is my understanding that most, if not all of them, played D3 themselves, so they are very familiar with the players and coaches from their respective regions.  Since I can't get to as many matches as I would like each year due to distance, it has been fun to read the weekly previews and the bantering that goes on in the comments section.

 

I would love to see the women's side of the blog develop, especially since my D will be heading the D3 route in a couple of years. 

 

Good luck to your team!  I hope to read more about it on the blog.

 

ETA: On the off-chance that you don't get a response from the email you sent to the general address, contact d3atlanticsouth directly,  He will definitely get back to you.
 


Edited by snowbeltmom, 31 August 2017 - 11:20 AM.


#10 Scoutermom

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 08:33 PM

Update:

 

We just returned from a long weekend of matches. After having driven 6 hours a day and then being "on" for more hours a day than I can count, I'm tired. So much has happened since my last post that I cannot write coherent or cohesive sentences that fully capture the essence of my experiences.

 

Let's just say that my team is currently 3-1 in our conference. We've had two historic match wins and won two points from a school from which we have never won points. This has been a phenomenal start to our season. We're well on our way to achieving our goals.

I can say with all honesty that I am tired. Tomorrow is a Day Off and all I have to do is paperwork. Thank goodness.


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#11 Scoutermom

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 08:34 PM

What an emotional roller coaster the last four days have been. We had three matches in two days and had to drive 6 hours one way to get to our opponents. I won't bore you with details but I will share that the first school we played was one which we usually lose 0-9. The records I was able to find go back to 2009. We lost but were able to take 2 points to end with a score of 2-7. We were thrilled. Beyond thrilled!

 

The next match was a critical match for us. We haven't been able to beat this school in years and it has been a barrier to moving up in our conference. I was a bit concerned that the players had put too much effort into their morning matches and they were indeed talking about tired legs and being a bit worn down. We had to eat lunch in the van and pulled up to our second match only 35 minutes after concluding the prior match. The coach was gracious and gave us an extra 30 mins to recover. My team took the courts and brought everything they had left. We ended up winning the match 5-4. The winning point was in a third set tie break so we were all on pins and needles until the very end. This win is huge. Huge. We found out after the match that we were expected to lose 0-9.

 

The third match was on Sunday and, once again, we were expected to lose (more about how this is decided in a bit). We didn't know that, of course, and went into the match thinking we were going to win. My players stepped up their game and we swept the match 9-0. 

 

Our weekend record was 2-1. With our wins we are now 3-1 in our conference. We weren't expected to win more than one match.

 

Here's how things are anticipated. Each coach is given a pre-season ballot and ranks the schools in the conference from 1st through last place. The number of points each school receives are added and then the overall ranking is published. I found out today that our school received precious few points and we are near the bottom of our conference's rankings; not the last school but close enough. It was predicted that we would beat one and only one school, the school ranked last. We haven't even played that school yet and we've already put up three wins and taken 2 points from the #2 ranked school. We still have to play the #1 & #3 schools and those will be tough matches; we've also lost to them 0-9 for the past 10 years.  

 

I also found out today that there are a lot of politics that occur off the courts. I had inquired why none of our players have ever received any end-of-season awards or accolades and was told that the coaches vote on those and the top 4 schools have a lock on the votes due to an historical voting bloc. It's a real shame. I know I'm going to be a mess when it comes to voting time.

 

I am actively trying not to think about the end-of-the-season or the initial naysayers who placed us toward the bottom of the lineup. My gals have already proved them wrong and we have three more schools I think we can beat. Each and every point, game, set, and match we win is precious and we savor every one. 

 

--

Please don't think that I, for one minute, believe the other schools' wins are any less special than ours. They are just as important to those schools.


Edited by Scoutermom, 11 September 2017 - 09:18 PM.

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#12 Lilaclady

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 10:10 PM

Wow that's crazy. So happy for your team. Woot!!!! All the best going forward.
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#13 fourisenough

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 08:54 PM

Thanks for sharing. I'm enjoying hearing your stories.
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#14 JanetC

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 09:44 PM

Congrats on your early success!
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#15 Scoutermom

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 09:39 AM

I had a break through. Better yet, some of my players have had break throughs. Either way, I'm counting it as a coaching win.

 

Throughout the season I have been doing what I think a good coach should do. I watch the players, analyze their games, and then find ways to help them improve. Improvements can be as simple as changing a grip, improving footwork, or learning new strategies. I put a lot of effort into watching, listening, and researching. I use established drills and create new ones. I find economical ways to incorporate some of the latest and greatest suggestions from pros on Youtube. Some days the team loves my practices; others, not so much. They grumble about having to do a specific drill for the third time. I just smile and make them do it anyway. I have tried to make practice fun. This week I split the team into two groups and, along with a volunteer coach to help me feed balls, we had drill contests and were looking for winning teams. This made them focus on skills under pressure, much like they would see in a match. We all had a blast and the two hours went by quickly.

 

The team had a match yesterday and they all played well. I told them going in that I was going to back off on coaching a bit and I wanted them to think about what they were doing, how to correct mistakes, assess their opponent's strengths and weaknesses, etc. I would be watching and all they had to do was wave or motion and I would be there in a a jiffy. They are getting to the point where I no longer should be telling them everything; they can do it on their own.  And they did. :)  I was only called upon three times. Once to help settle down a doubles team and help them regain their composure after losing a few games in a row, once to talk about possible foot cramps, and once to help players switch to courts that were better lit (it was dark). None asked about tennis technique. I wasn't too concerned since we swept the match. It was a good win.

 

On the drive home, after we had stopped for dinner and the team was settled into the van seats and happily eating their Chinese take out, one player piped up and said (not an exact quote but close enough):

 

"Coach, thank you for those drills you made us do last week. The other coach must have told my opponent to start pulling me in with drop shots because all of a sudden she switched up her game and was no longer hitting to the baseline. The first time she did it, she won the point. The next time. I won. I remembered the drills and knew I could get to those shots and knew how to hit them back as winners. It was awesome. Without having done those drills, she would have won so many points." Then she went back to eating her broccoli chicken.

 

It was all I could do not to cry right then. I was driving after all and keeping my eyes on the road was kind of important.

 

Which reminds me - I still feel a deep responsibility for these women; not just my team but for all of the players. Each represents family, friends, dreams, hopes. Each is unique and full of potential, beauty, intelligence. They may have chosen different paths but none is better, none is more important. I make sure I give a positive word to every women after every match. I also make sure I shake her hand and look her in the eye when I say it. I want each woman to know that I have seen her efforts and I appreciate her. It may be hokey but...I know what it's like to lose, repeatedly, and hearing a genuine kind word from someone afterword can be uplifting and make all the difference.


Edited by Scoutermom, 28 September 2017 - 09:50 AM.

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#16 Nancy in NH

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 11:07 AM

First of all congrats!  There's no doubt you are a real asset to those girls and the team!

I want to express my genuine thanks for being out there doing such great coaching work.  My oldest DS had a miserable experience with a coach he really looked up to, in the one sport he loved (and probably unknown to most here--candlepin bowling), and ultimately quit the teen league because of it (he is now back at it, in an adult league).  The coach, in my opinion, made the biggest mistake any coach can make--it was all about him.  His reputation, what he brought to the league, what he did and sacrificed for the league, blah, blah, blah.  I did some assistant coach work with young kids in roller skating.  Much like you, I felt responsible for the kids--that they were happy doing what they were doing, felt encouraged, and improved to their satisfaction (not everyone wants to compete).  Throughout that experience, I witnessed the egos of the coaches growing, saw the conflict and competitiveness between them (and between parents/parents, parents/kids, coaches/parents, oh the politics!), and watched as divisiveness grew in our competitive club.  When coaches cross that line--the line where it becomes more about them and their success, than the success and happiness of the kids--no one benefits.  Ultimately, DS's bowling coach left the league, uttering disparaging words against the owners of the alley that housed the league, some of the parents, and even a few bowlers (by name!).  People were shocked.  I was not, nor was DS.  No one believed how my son had been treated, disregarded, shamed, ignored.  I was never so happy to see someone 'retire'.

You clearly are taking the time to inspire those young women to work hard, to set goals and be able to reach them, and to believe in themselves.  The latter goes a LONG way.  Encouragement and support is what they need, and what you are doing by handing it over to them, so they realize they can rely on their skills and themselves, is such a gift.  It is confidence-building and they will take that with them onto the courts and throughout their lives.  You are not only creating a winning environment, but are becoming a wonderful, caring role model for those kids, as well as providing a place where hard work and dedication is appreciated, whether they win or lose.

Kudos to you!  I'm sure those girls are having the time of their lives!  You are right--it is a weighty responsibility, but you have the right mindset and a good heart.  I think you will have a long, happy career as a team coach.  Enjoy the rest of the season and beyond!

Nancy in NH


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#17 Scoutermom

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Posted 30 September 2017 - 06:07 PM

Thank you, Nancy.

 

 


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#18 Scoutermom

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 11:22 AM

Today is the day we find out our final standing in our conference. I have a fairly good idea of where we'll end up but there are two important matches being played today that could have direct influence on the standings. If one team wins either of their matches, we'll share a spot. If that team loses both of the matches, we will move ahead of that team. Either way, our team will finish at the highest standing in about 20 years.

 

I am thrilled about this turn of events but it's not the thing that excites me the most.

 

We had our final matches yesterday. We lost the first one and won the second. The first match was tough but the players universally stated they played the best tennis of their lives and everyone was content with the loss. In our last match of the day, we celebrated our graduating seniors. We actually had spectators at this match; we don't have many of those since tennis isn't a big sport in our area and since many of our players are from out-of-state. We had four families in attendance and at various times throughout the match I was approached by moms and dads thanking me for giving their daughters a good season. The last two years were a bit rough on both players and their families and this season began with trepidation for everyone. While everyone was pleased with the win-loss record, the majority of the comments were about how happy their daughters were, how they have grown, how different the environment is.  I cried multiple times; sometimes in front of people, other times by myself in the hallway. I knew the past few seasons were fraught with sadness and turmoil but I had not idea how deep the emotions ran or how many people they affected. While I had hopes of helping the women have a good season, I never dreamed just how well things would turn out.

 

To see these families together, rejoicing, laughing, celebrating each other...it made me happy.

 

 


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#19 JanetC

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 01:54 PM

Sounds like a great season -- the final standings are only a tiny part of that. Congratulations.
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#20 Lilaclady

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 10:26 PM

Congratulations!!!!

#21 Scoutermom

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 10:21 PM

Quick note: we just returned from our conference tournament. We had some wins and we had some losses. We didn't bring home any trophies for our tennis game but we were awarded the Sportsmanship Award. Each team votes for this award. When they called my team's name, I began to cry. I couldn't help myself. This is such a great group of women and, even though I thought they deserved it, it was comforting to know the other teams and coaches also recognized how special this team is.

 

 


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#22 snowbeltmom

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 10:42 AM

Quick note: we just returned from our conference tournament. We had some wins and we had some losses. We didn't bring home any trophies for our tennis game but we were awarded the Sportsmanship Award. Each team votes for this award. When they called my team's name, I began to cry. I couldn't help myself. This is such a great group of women and, even though I thought they deserved it, it was comforting to know the other teams and coaches also recognized how special this team is.

Congratulations!  This award speaks volumes about the culture you as the coach have established on your team.  Not every player has the opportunity to play for a coach with your values.  The women who play for you are lucky and will treasure these memories for years to come.


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#23 Nancy in NH

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 12:47 PM

:hurray:  :hurray:  :hurray:  :hurray:

 

Well-deserved!!!  Congrats!



#24 Lilaclady

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 07:49 PM

Congratulations again that is awesome!!!!