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Confidence, has many meanings. Could be defined as truth, faith, belief, or some kind of assurance. One day in 1994 as I sat in the back room of Tom Fleming's Running Room store. (Note: Tom Fleming won NY City Marathon 2x, as well placed in top ten at Boston at least six times.) He and I were having this discussion. He realized or supposed I lacked confidence.

He said, "You know who's supposed to give you confidence. Don't you?"

I replied, "Uh. Who?"

He responded, "Your parents are where you get your confidence from."

I was void of such a thought. I had no clue and he knew it. I replied, "I thought it was up to me." He wagged his head 'No'.

Over the years after that conversation, I did know I was on my own. That confidence was temporary. I'd witnessed enough, experienced enough... Secretly understanding that the rest of the world I lived in had a disadvantage... They had confidence in confidence. Meaning, they didn't see the emptiness that could arrive at any moment.

You know... Those unruly solid wet sock smacks upside the head that shake your world. Then your world is either saved, dashed or merely shaken, but not always reset.

I have had my world dashed and reset many times over. So now when I hear a parent say, "My kid just needs you to teach them... so they can have confidence." It makes me want to run the other way. Yes, that's what that plea from a Suburban parent does.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my youngest about the unjust expectations of high school track and field coaches. I've seen it in Volleyball... Yes, ridiculous expectations from parents towards high school coaches.

I remember one Volleyball season, I heard parents bash our girl's Volleyball coach throughout the entire match. It was a State game. And our little town team had made it this far and had 'home field' advantage. That took work.

Now I will not claim to know everything about high school Volleyball. But what I will say is this. It is completely wrong to bad-mouth a coach who cannot defend themselves as you are in the bleachers and they are in the heat of the battle on floor/in the field coaching a match. I compare that to an employer losing it on an employee in front of other employees and expressing what he pays them publicly. You just don't do that.  

I learned that lesson from observations in places of work and at home. It's similar to the old unwritten rule of... 'Outside of our domain, we do not discuss politics, religion or finances.' It was something my husband and I grew up with and we taught our daughters the same. And to the point, that our oldest when with friends at one point one day came home aggravated. Her friends had pressured her about her unwillingness to discuss her opposing view to theirs on a sensitive political agenda. 

She remarked to me in the past year, "Mom, it's just not right. I want to relax with my friends. So what if we don't agree. It's uncomfortable. " I replied, "As it should be. And you're correct. Now you see why your Mom and Dad stated things about the three things..." She responded, "Yes, politics, religion and finances. Why can't they just not?" I queried, "Like leave it alone?" She replied, "Yeah." I replied, "It's about their ego. They're edging God out. Or in lay-terms, 'One-upsmanship'. Now you know why."

So going back to parents bashing coaches in the bleachers. Here I was that day, knowing full well it was unlikely we would win. However, our girl's Volleyball team had already over-achieved that season. They were already far beyond expectations. 

We were a team of short stature compared with some 'Amazon-like' girl's teams we already had beaten. As well, hearing these particular parents... now over the years... I remained calm, yet pictured laying a choke on those parents, putting them to sleep and dragging them out of the area. Yet I smiled as I turned back to see who those parents were.  

Instead of grappling with them on any level and seeing this. As well recalling our oldest daughter lamenting the night before in fear of losing the match. I brought a book with me on the psychology of sport. One a coach, a mentor, a teacher... an athlete... well most anyone could derive some hope and skills from, applicable to just about anything in their lives. I wrote a note in it to the coach, not knowing whether he would return the next season. I let him know my appreciation for his coaching that season. And as a matter of fact, I don't hand these books out 'lightly'. Me handing you this book, means a job well done. People need to hear that you know.---Jody-Lynn Reicher 


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