Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Little Things (Part II)

People who know me well know that I love to tell stories.  A lot of people have been asking me to post more regularly, and a number of people contacted me about yesterday's post, so I'll share two stories with you about why the little things matter.

Over the years, I've been extremely privileged to have a small window of insight into the lives of a number of college players.  People come to me with problems ranging from personal playing issues to team problems to serious life crises.  I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know these players on a deeper level than just TD-player, but I often feel overwhelmed by my inability to actually do anything to help them.  I was commenting to one of my friends recently that sometimes I feel helpless because I honestly don't know how I can help these people.  My friend responded, "You care.  That's why they come to you, and them knowing that you care is enough."  Huh.

Today I received a really wonderful and thoughtful email from a player whose team has come to something like eight of my tournaments over the course of the past three seasons.  The team was a supporter of some of my early work in the Midwest, and is now one of the best teams in the nation.  Two years ago, I had a conversation with one of their players on the sideline of a tournament and it was clear that she was having a very emotional weekend.  While I consider her to be a friend now, I hardly knew her at the time, but texted her after the tournament to make sure she was ok.

Here is an excerpt from the email she wrote me today:

"I can't really tell you how much that meant to me. It meant a lot that some stranger cared enough to go through the trouble (with a million other things and people on your mind) to send me that text. It reminded me that people are good and caring, even when they don't have any stake in the situation. I was nobody and you still cared enough to check on me. Thank you.

I have changed a lot since then, and so has my team. I have become a better person I hope. I think I have learned to care about people more and take time to invest in friendships more. A huge part of that is because I learned I could be a better friend and person by knowing you... I didn't know if I had ever told you how much I respect you, so I wanted to be sure you knew. I know this tournament season and really just last couple of years have been crazy for you, but the fact that you are able to keep pushing on, caring for people, sticking hard to your beliefs, and taking chances even when it isn't easy means a lot."

It's the little things.

The second story is about something someone did for me eight years ago.

I was a rookie on the Cal B team and we were playing the Pie Queens at Sectionals.  We were getting destroyed and I was guarding (well, attempting to guard) the Queens' Callahan nominee, Andrea "Chowdah" Jung.  About halfway through the game, there was a particularly embarrassing point, during which I chased Chowdah around the field, trailing her by about 10 yards at all times.  She broke me for the score, and I turned to walk to the sidelines, feeling dejected.  The next part I remember vividly.  Chowdah stopped me, shook my hand, and said "Keep playing.  You're going to be really good someday."  It took her about 10 seconds of effort, but that moment has stuck with me over many, many years, and is a huge reason why I keep pushing myself so hard as a player.  I want to improve because I want to make her proud.  As a leader on the A team and as one of the best players in the country, she had little reason to talk to me.  But she made the effort anyway.

A few years ago, we were playing each other at a club tournament, and I got a layout D on her teammate on an O2 cut.  After that point, I walked over to the sidelines and Chowdah just looked at me and said, "See, I told you."

It's the little things.

No comments:

Post a Comment