Instilling belief and saying goodbye

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Belief.

Up until a couple of years ago I didn't understand what this word meant or at least didn't know what it meant to me. I've had several things chip away at my belief this fall; my father-in-law passed away in early October, a member of our team suffered a season-ending injury and we had a player transfer to another school. That chipping away can be very disheartening and has made me at times both sad and angry. But that belief has not been shattered. In fact, it's been reinforced on a daily basis by my team and my family.

I'm the coach. I'm the mom. I'm the one who is supposed to believe in them and lift them up… but this kind of belief is a two-way street. Every time I try to devise a new way to lift up my team, to help them believe in themselves, I end up reinforcing my own belief in my team and myself in the process.

Each fall, I have the very humbling experience of having parents drop off their daughters at Luther College, entrusting them to my care. And once the tears dry (both the parents' and mine), the first thing I want my athletes to learn is to believe in themselves and that anything is possible if they just believe. Have you ever heard the expression "Fake it 'til you make it?" I use that saying all the time with my team. There have been many times we have walked into a gym knowing that a team is more skilled, bigger, taller, stronger, but I didn't care… because I had belief in my team.

Whether it is on the court as the underdog, recovering from an injury or when applying to grad schools they feel they won't get into, if my belief in them is rock-solid, they oftentimes can't help but believe in themselves. Getting that nudge of confidence can give them the strength they need to be fearless and succeed. I don't mean to sound like I've cornered the market on belief… I'm saying believing in others has a cyclical effect both for the receiver and the giver.

There have certainly been days when I don't believe in myself, but knowing that I believe in my team and my team believes in me gives me the courage to do whatever I put my mind to. There are so many things I want to teach my athletes in the four years I have them on my team, but what I'm realizing is that every season, every day, every practice, they're teaching me too.

For all of the life lessons I've learned (and tried to teach) in my seven years of coaching, nothing quite prepared me for saying goodbye to this team, this school, this place. My husband and I and our girls are moving to the Des Moines area later this year and it is ripping a hole in my heart. I don't know if that hole will ever be filled, but what I do know is that I believe in this place and this team and that means that Luther will always be home, and my team will always be family.

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