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Our job is to empower others, not tear them down

This weekend Libby's volleyball team played in a two-day tournament in Lawrence. Her team really did well, but we came up short for a medal. Still, I am proud of the work they put in as a team. They communicate well, they LIKE each other and they support one another, even when someone makes a mistake.

Apparently, this mentality was NOT the same as an opposing team's mentality. Thankfully, I was not around to witness a coach from another team completely belittle her players (12 and 13 year old girls, mind you) about their inability to win. She not only loudly reprimanded them next to their own bench, but she then decided it would be a good idea to walk her team over to their parents and insist that they apologize for how they had been playing all weekend. To make matters worse, one of the dads from the team jumped on board to told the girls that they were not there to watch them lose. They were not paying thousands of dollars for them to play like that. And not only did the opposing team's parents have to hear this, but so did parents and players from our team because we were slotted to play them next. Next, as in a few minutes after they were embarrassed, ridiculed and humiliated by their coach in front of many, many onlookers.

We beat them. Easily. But by that point, these girls were so broken down that it's no wonder. I wish I had been there to witness this. I wonder, would I have stood up for these girls? I hope so. I plan to write to the club owner/manager to share the experience because in my opinion, that coach was WRONG. I'm angered to know that these young women had to endure that. I would not be surprised if it is something they hear on an ongoing basis from their coach. And that should not happen.

Why am I sharing this today? I know I'm not a volleyball coach, but I am a coach. And although my clientele is not typically 12 or 13 years old, the women I work with work HARD and they deserve accolades and encouragement, no matter what kind of lifting day they are having. As a fitness professional, as a coach, it is part of my job to lift people up. Women talk about weight issues, poor body image, faltering with goals they have, roadblocks they think hinder their progress. I hear it all the time. Just like these young women today who knew they weren't playing well. They, like many of my clients, were already beating themselves up. They don't need a coach to berate them like that.

Now I'm not saying it all has to be love and roses. I get it. The tough love comes out from me too. When clients don't want to change their eating habits but don't see progress. Or when they work out with me twice a week and do nothing else and cannot understand why they aren't feeling stronger, leaner, etc. The tough love from me is there. You cannot - you will not - see change if you don't do the work. But my job is also to encourage them to take small steps to get them closer to their goal. My job is to congratulate them on all accomplishments, no matter how small. My job is to empower my clients as their coach. Not to tear them down.

Perhaps the coach of this opposing team needs to learn a thing or two about that. Lets build our girls up. Lets give them the confidence to continue playing sports, so that when they are adults, they feel a strong sense of self worth, not feelings of worthlessness.

All the best in health,


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