I Don’t Fit the Mold

I Don’t Fit the Mold

“Don’t follow someone else’s way, find what works for you and stick to it.”

Fitting in is easy for some and hard for others. We have young athletes who want to have the coolest clothes, makeup, shoes, games, and so forth, not necessarily because they like those materialistic things, but because they want to “fit in”. For some reason, as young individuals, being different or simply being yourself becomes an uncomfortable or “bad” thing that our society has reflected onto the minds that are too scared to be themselves because of what others will think, say, or even do to them. Rumors, embarrassing moments, feeling alone, and losing friends is inevitable, but it is also really hard on our young  student-athletes as they are learning their emotions, who they are as an individual, and who they want to be. Everyone tends to fall into the hole of society where you do what the magazine, T.V., and computers tell the world. “Don’t do that, do this.” “Wear this, not that.” “That is wrong, this is right.” But as we get older we start to form our own opinions, judgements, likes, and dislikes. We start to create the person we are based on what we value and find morally acceptable. We start to become ourselves, the one person we wish we had always been, but were too scared to be because of the mean students in school or what we read or heard was what we should be, how we should act, and how we should look. We become an individual in society, instead an invisible follower.

As a role model to my athletes, it is important that I reiterate the advantages of being different! There are so many advantages of being confident in yourself as an individual, accepting what makes you different, using your own strengths, and finding what works for YOU, not what works for “everyone”. Our athletes are each unique in their own way, and if we try to mold all of them into the same exact swing, throw, pitcher, fielder, and competitor, we are doing them a disservice; we are letting them down, because we are not helping them become the best version of themselves, but merely the image of majority. As a coach, we are here to not only enhance their skill levels and to provide them with basic mechanics and fundamentals, but to help them become their own athlete, own competitor, and own person as they grow, learn, and become the best version of themselves.

Each of our athletes learns, acts, and responds differently. They each have different skill sets that are strong and that are weak. We have athletes who get mad at themselves when they make a mistake and gravel in it, and we have athletes who brush it off and reset themselves. While it is our job to help them see different perspectives and ways to find success in their sport, it is also important that we let them learn what works best for each of them on their own. They might need to get angry at themselves to light a fire under them and work harder, or they may need to take a deep breath and refocus to stay mentally strong through the game. It is so incredibly crucial to guide our athletes on a positive path in the sport, but it is also crucial to allow them to fail, to allow them to make mistakes, learn what works for them and what doesn’t, and to give as much knowledge, experience, and perspectives as we can to help them see through a multitude of lenses to look into and see themselves in.

We know what worked for us as athletes, and we share that with our athletes as they are getting older and past the basic fundamentals and mechanics. They have to learn who they are not only as an athlete and competitor, but also who they are as a student and as a person. We want what is best for our athletes, and sometimes everyone loses sight of what is truly important and why we are coaching or playing the sport. It can be so incredibly challenging and mentally draining, but I wouldn’t change a single thing, because if I can help my athletes reach their highest potential not only on the field, but in the classroom and in life, then I am making a difference, and as coach, isn’t that what we are here for, to make a difference?

“When you are born into a world you don’t fit in, it is because you were born to help create a new one.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp

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