Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An Elite Dad writes about a tough decision

I received this email from a local dad who wanted to share his story. I think the reason for sharing his thoughts have to do with the agonizing decisions we make as parents. Who knows what is right and wrong when considering so many factors? The interesting thing about this dad's decision, is that his daughter is widely considered one of the best players in her age group in the city. His family stood to lose a lot if their decision was the wrong one. His letter thoughts follow:

"One year ago I thought my daughter’s club team was pretty good. They had won several big tournaments including some national ones. A year ago she was small post or I thought a power forward - that was until all the other girls passed her by on the late growth spurts – or better yet her early growth spurt. A year ago she would seldom take a jump shot further than 4 to 5 feet. A year ago she was not very confident in dribbling the ball more than two to three dribbles on the other side of the coin, she did not have to, because she lived in the paint. A year ago she rarely faced the basket; she always played with her back to it as a post. A year ago she was the BIG duck in a little puddle.

A year ago as her parents we had to decide, does she stay with her team and let her continue to play out of position or move her to a team/coach that will mold her into what she really should be, a guard. The move would also make her the little duck in a very big lake. The decision was an agonizing one for several reasons. First, she was comfortable in her environment and she doesn’t like change. Secondly, to leave a team after six seasons would be bitter sweet. There was going to be some hard feelings among some parents, players, and the coach. Lastly, you always wonder in the back of your mind, what if it doesn’t work out, and then what? Then we remembered what an assistant basketball coach for OU had said in a talk she did for the girls at a national tournament. She told the girls that they hold their own destiny in their hands. They are the driver of their car and they need to look forward as they go down the road and not look in the rear view mirror at the past. Better yet take the rear view mirror out of the car. Their success/failure will be determined by the passengers (coaches/trainers) they pick up along the way. No one drives their car except them. As the parent we are their GPS, we help guide them on their journey.

After many conversations (interviews) with her new would be coach, with my daughter and wife, we made the decision to join the new team no matter the outcome. I still remember the first time my daughter walk into the gym, she was shocked at the warm welcome she received. She embraced them as they embraced her. She had battled against these girls for a couple of years and playing with them was a lot better/different than playing against them.

A year ago the coach told me that if she would buy into what he was teaching and practice the skills, she would gain a new set of skills, become confident in her ability to dribble, shoot and her knowledge of the game. He also said don’t expect it to happen overnight, but it will happen. A year ago this week she walked into a new environment, with a new coach, a new team, new expectations and today she is a better player. She still has a long way to go, but her belief in her coach, his expectations and the expectations of her teammates makes her want to get better. A year ago, there was no going to the gym just to shoot around or to work on her ball handling, today she requires I take her on her off days.

If I look in the rear view mirror, a year ago is in the past. The decision my daughter made as the driver of her car was a great decision. She isn’t the same player she was; she will tell you she is a stronger and smarter and a heck of a lot more confident in her skill set. As a parent we have let our kids drive the car, but we have to know and approve of who they are allowing in the passenger seat."