As a coach I get extremely nervous about adding new personalities into the mix of an already established team. I get excited too, but nervous. One athlete with a bad attitude or clashing personality can disrupt the entire culture of our team. Finding kids that truly fit is such an important part of keeping the team strong. The sisterhood my athletes have is truly something that I can't even really put into words. I have had parents tell me that our team truly does have a unique experience when it comes to how my athletes interact with one another. They aren’t “mean girls,” and though we have the occasional bickering they truly do love one another. It's one of the things I'm most proud of. There is something about the fear and struggles they endure together, the pain they push through, and the success they share that truly bonds them together in a way that I don't think every sport offers. Therefore, when given the responsibility of choosing new members to add to the mix, Coach Taylor and I never take it lightly. We overthink, question and consider so many factors as we make our choices for new athletes.
This year in a team full of extremely serious athletes who are always striving for perfection and sometimes forget to lighten up, God gave us Jaci. Now, don't get me wrong, Jaci is a SERIOUS athlete. She is competitive, hard working, and has improved dramatically since the start of our year. When Jaci tried out for the team I saw all of these things. I saw that she made corrections, that she had internal motivation to be successful, that she was strong AND flexible (two things as a coach I don't often see in the same kid). I saw potential. Lots of it. What I didn't see was the benefits she would bring to our team in a different aspect.
At tryouts she was quiet and serious and listened intently so I didn't really see who she was or the surprising personality behind the athlete. As the season progressed and her (and her amazing parents) joined the team lazer family, I started to get a glimpse of Jaci’s charisma. I noticed how she encouraged her teammates and in the eye of defeat would crack a joke to make them laugh or remind them that though it's important to be serious, smiling is a skill that's just as important as an acro connection or your ability to do a consistent bar routine. She started to sand the edges of the team a little bit. She kept us laughing and softened our hearts and our workouts in a way that were really beneficial. She made an impact that Coach Taylor and I have both been fascinated by.
Jaci has proven to be successful at her competitions too, she has brought home several medals and honestly has improved more than most of the first years I have taught in the past. Her potential excites me as a coach and getting to know her has been a gift. We are so proud of her skills and her progress, but I think the impact she has made on her teammates and her coaches is just as much of a success. Leading the team in believing that the perfect balance of discipline and finding joy in the struggle is key to not only success but overall happiness. As the season progresses, I can't help but be excited to see how her effortless balance of discipline and pleasure continues to shape the culture of our team.
As a coach, I get extremely nervous about adding new personalities into the mix, but this year, God sent us Jaci and she fits like a glove.