Last Thursday, the Covenant Christian 7th grade volleyball team won their first game of the season. They did not win the match, but won their first game. The parents were cheering loudly and the girls were hugging and giving each other high fives. It was as if they had won the 7th grade state championship in volleyball . . . I write this knowing there is not such a thing!
What struck me about the evening on the way home was that every girl had a “moment.” Most of the team has not played volleyball and many of the girls have not played organized sports. Three of the girls who had a significant play were ones who had made it clear during the first game that they were not interested in touching the ball. Thursday night, however, these same three girls were moving toward the ball and even laying out for shots critical to keep the point going. They were smiling and it was obvious they felt a part of the team and not girls who felt out of place.
The 7th grade girl life is one of uncertainty and one where girls are looking for where they fit in. As I thought about the change I saw in the team and in several individual girls, I figured out how this change had happened so quickly. I realized, someone was behind the change. Someone was building these girls up and giving them the tools and the confidence to give it their all.
In a time when we are hearing a lot about Covenant’s coaching staff, we have not heard about the unsung heroes of 7th grade athletics . . . the coaches who coach teams with very few cuts if any, and sometimes, no experience. There is not much glory in coaching junior high athletics. It is all about investing in kids in an awkward stage of development where they are simply trying to figure out who they are. Coach Reagan Schoen is one of the coaches so successfully working with a group of early adolescent girls.
It is interesting, because I do not know any details about Coach Schoen’s past – whether she played sports in college or professionally – whether she has coached anywhere else besides Covenant. What I do know, however, is she is embracing her role as the 7th grade volleyball coach and building up these girls in a way that makes them know they matter.
Coach Schoen and many other junior high coaches deserve recognition for their confidence building style of coaching. Participating in organized sports is building the self confidence of these kids by giving them the opportunity to:
- Try new things in a safe environment
- Face the fear of doing hard things
- And giving them space to fail (kids learn the most from failure).
These are just a few reasons participating in youth sports under an excellent coach like Reagan Schoen is a great choice for parents to make for their children.
We are not far into the season, but I already want to say THANK YOU to Coach Schoen for how she is building all of these girls up!