Dear Coach: This is who I am
Editor’s Note: We recently posted a few great coach responses to Ashley! The impact of Ashley’s letter was so large that we needed our team of coaches to weigh in as well. I think you’ll find them particularly inspiring! Head over here to find it.
Over the weekend, we were sent an empowering open letter from Ashley, a high school athlete that was struggling with her coach, his comments, and her overall well-being on the team. Many young and developing athletes are emotionally impacted by poor or ruthless coaching, so it’s important to celebrate those that can rise above the noise and hate in a positive way. For Ashley, she fell out of love with basketball after a lack of playing time and proper guidance — so while we can be sure that our own private coaches are up to the task, there are plenty around the country that don’t understand their importance and influence on growing teenagers. After one difficult practice, Ashley came home and wrote the letter below — her father, Scott, and Ashley agreed that if it helped one person, it was worth putting out into the world. Scott added:
“I felt like it might be something that could benefit others her age. I felt if it could help even just one person in a time of need, it would be worth sharing. After talking with my daughter, she wants to do the same. We really hope this helps other young athletes, parents, coaches, or anyone else in a time of need. It’s important that our children emerge from their experiences as better people with stronger character and the ability to bring out the best within themselves.”
So, without more interference on our end, we wanted to share Ashley’s open letter to her high school basketball coach in full and without editing. If her message leaves an impression on you, please share it — there are likely many other athletes looking for some sorely needed guidance as well! For those out there in a similar situation, consider reaching out to one of the great private coaches on our platform — they’re here to help.
Thank you, Ashley, and best of luck with your next adventure — we’re sure you’ll crush whatever it may be.
Thank you for never believing in me. Thank you for never giving me that opportunity I so desperately desired. I yearned for a chance to prove that I was capable. I wanted a chance to prove to you that I could perform beyond your expectations for me. You never gave me that chance, but I thank you. Coach, thank you for looking past me on the bench during every single game we played. As your eyes moved past each seated player, I wanted them to stop at me. I wanted you to put me in the game. I cherished every moment I was able to spend on the court, but thank you for making that time minimal.
Coach, thank you for putting me on the court during the last two minutes of almost every game to keep yourself from feeling guilty. Thank you for making it so obvious that I wasn’t important. Coach, thank you for listening to me when I cried in front of you and bluntly told you I just wanted to play. Thank you for in turn, only telling me you appreciated my emotion. Thank you for telling me it was clear to you how hard I worked. Thank you for not changing anything after that night.
Coach, thank you for ruining a sport for me. I used to become so excited, nervous, and hopeful on the night of a game. Thank you for changing that for me. Thank you for making practice miserable. Thank you for causing me to shed more tears than I ever have over a single topic. Thank you for leading me to question my capabilities. Thank you for making me feel unintelligent and unimportant. Thank you for helping me lose such an incredible amount of motivation and desire.
Coach, everything you have done has only turned me into a better person. You have shown me that hard work doesn’t necessarily lead to success. You have shown me that laziness should be tolerated and embraced. You have shown me to expect the worst in people. What you have shown me is not what you have taught me.
Coach, what you have taught me is that I am more important than a number on the front of a jersey. You have taught me that I possess knowledge that actually matters. I’m not talking about knowledge which allows me to understand exactly where on the court to be at any given time. I’m talking about knowledge that is useful. I’m talking about knowledge that builds character. I’m talking about knowledge that will make me wiser and more attuned to the struggles that are neatly packaged with the gift called life.
Success is relative, but your vision of the term is entirely too faulted. Because of you, I understand that a win is meaningless if you are miserable in trying to acquire it. Through these past seasons, I have realized that my time on this earth is limited, and that it should never be wasted or taken for granted. I’ve decided there is no use in wishing for different outcomes to various scenarios. You have taught me how to be polite and kind even when this endowment isn’t deserved. You have made me so much stronger than I have ever been before.
Coach, your constant yelling no longer stings. I know what you say to me doesn’t define me. You have taught me the power and importance of self-confidence. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a “broken athlete.” I see someone who wants to make a difference. I see someone who has goals and aspirations. I see someone who is going to succeed even if her senior year of high school doesn’t involve the sport she has come to dislike so much. Though I may not be your star player, I am me. I am me and I do not wish to be any different.
Coach, for all of this, I thank you.