(Don’t) Put Me In, Coach!

There wasn’t much I did well in gym class. I never ran a 12-minute mile, never made it up the rope, and was worried I’d get my face smashed by the volleyball.

But I could do the Arm Hang like no other!

Is that a sport, you ask? It is when you’re one of the skinniest, lankiest girls in her 7th grade class, underweight by at least 20 pounds. Hold my chin (and the rest of my body) above that bar with my undefined biceps and triceps? I wondered if I’d even get my forehead up there.

I sat on the blue mats with my classmates, nervous sweat on my palms. BTW – that does not help when hanging from a slippery steel bar. I watched each of the boys make it – some for 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 17 seconds. A few girls with close times. If I remember correctly (and granted, this was eons ago), no one much above 30 or so. Then it was my turn. I glanced at my gym teacher (bless her, she was tough). Her face was neutral – I don’t think she expected any difference from the last 12 kids.

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I decided that steel bar wouldn’t take me down. I was going to stay up there as long as my breath would hold. (Oh, wait, we were supposed to keep breathing.) I was determined, stubborn – it was me and the bar. I was better than the bar. It was my moment. Like Rocky running up the stairs to his theme song. Except it was dead silent in that weight room…until the seconds started passing. Then, I faintly heard my gym teacher – keep it up, you can do it – and my classmates, too. Only faintly, though, because it was mostly just me and the bar.

I stayed up there…for 59 seconds.

That’s right! Skinny girl whooped that bar! You may not think that’s long, but after a little web surfing, I found the 50th percentile (for girls) is only 9 seconds. I think I surprised my teacher. I’ll never forget her grin. And I definitely surprised myself. It pays to be a stubborn, skinny girl.

I hate strongly dislike sports analogies. Not because they don’t work. Just because they’re everywhere. Business, motivational speakers, magazine articles, even our church sermons regularly refer to our NFL team.

But here I am using a sports analogy. I dislike myself right now. 🙂

I blame this on my son’s school ceremony I attended last week. They recognized six teachers retiring at year end, and one was the gym teacher. I was taken down memory lane.

Gym and team sports weren’t my thing. I preferred competing alone. If I was going to let anyone down, it would simply be me.

There is something to be said for accomplishing things on your own through self-motivation and sheer determination. But I can’t ignore the fact that I am, in fact, now on a team. A permanent one. My family.

And my role as coach is one of the many facets of my motherhood title. As my 2-year old reminded me.

  • [Me: Hmmm, what should I do next?] I was doing chores around the house…and talking to myself.
  • [Him: You’re going to change the basketball player.] As in, his diaper, which he had asked me to change several minutes earlier as I was multi-tasking. 🙂
  • [Me: Oh, yes. Thank you, basketball player.]
  • [Him: You’re welcome, coach!]

Using this terminology was unexpected. I didn’t even know he knew what a coach was. And he was using it in the right context.

And he’s right. There are times I’m the family coach. The thing is I’ve been taking the role too seriously. I need to remember I’m not just a coach, I’m not the only coach, and I’m certainly not the head coach.

Just a Coach: I have dual roles – coach and player – but am too focused on my role as coach. I make sure the team is well-rested, uniforms are clean, snacks are made, lists are checked, and instructions tossed around. I forget to be a player. I forget to have fun with my teammates.

Some mornings it feels like I’m reviewing the same game plan 5 times – eat your breakfast, brush your teeth, pack your snack, make your bed, grab a sweatshirt – be ready for school before doing anything else. This morning, I could have reminded my son of all this. Instead, I played ball with my toddler. Guess what? We still got out the door on time.

Only Coach: I’m not playing this parenting game solo. Yet, there are days I place all the responsibilities on my shoulders alone. Why? It won’t do my hubby any good to not know the game. How can he help coach the team if he doesn’t have the playbook? And let’s be honest. I’m not his coach. I should be running the plays by him beforehand. There are times I need to take the role of assistant coach.

I’m so bad at this, I’m having a hard time thinking of a recent situation where I did this. 🙂

Head Coach: Speaking of assistant coach, I’m not the head honcho. It’s really God’s playing field, not mine. Sometimes I don’t even know the rules. The good news is I may blunder some plays, but he won’t take me out of the game for it. And if the rules change, he’ll coach me through. I just need to listen and wait.

Waiting for a baby was definitely one of those times I tried to coach my own way. Ovulation tests, calendar monitoring, temperature checks. I thought if I did all the right things, I’d score eventually. But when you hit the 1-year mark, you’re on the rocky cliff of giving up or trying harder. That’s when I submitted. “Okay, God,” I said. “I obviously can’t do this myself. I’ll just keep doing what I can and leave the rest up to you.” And six months later, I finally saw those two pink lines I was sure I’d never see. Some games go into major overtime!


Now, if you’re as sick of sports analogies as I am, please forgive me. And if you think sports analogies are the only way to go, I forgive you. Just kidding – forgive my sports rebellion.

My family members are my teammates, and I don’t want to disappoint them. If I’m not fully engaged in the game, stop going up to bat, and instead throw in the towel (oops, more sports metaphors!), then I’ve definitely let my team down. I have to keep playing and trying my best. I have to be player and coach, navigating the difference. And never forget who’s head coach in this game of life.

With His help, the steely bar above my head will not get the best of me!

Heart Monitor: The past two days have been really great. I’m back on green, friends!! But wow, this post’s photo shows how white I am – I need some sun!


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