An open letter to any athlete who was recently cut.I’m writing you this letter today, to express a great burden on my heart. And while writing the letter probably won’t lighten my spirit, I am hoping, with time, it will lighten yours ever so slightly.
You see, today was the final day of tryouts. We made some cuts today that absolutely broke my heart.
Any coach who has a “cut” sport will tell you that today is the hardest day of the year. I want you to understand though, that I am not looking for your sympathy. Not at all. I am the one who is sympathetic towards you.
Please bear with me as I explain myself.
Being the coach of a competitive sport means a few things. Primarily, it means that the goal is to put together a competitive team who you believe will fit together nicely and can do some winning. Teams are made, or not made, for a variety of reasons. I won’t even get into all of them. Your situation is unique, just like someone else’s. The thing that isn’t unique though, is that first goal.
That stated goal comes into major conflict for me on days like today. I coach, because I like working with kids your age. Sure, I also love the sport. I devote my life to learning more each day, but I do that, because I want to give that knowledge to you. I love spending 2 hours a day in the gym with you. In the off season, I do spend that much time with you. Why?
I ENJOY YOU.
Does the fact that I enjoy you even matter to you if you don’t make a team? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe you’re ticked at me, and I kinda don’t blame you. But just know, when I see you crying, I want to give you a hug. And trust me, nurturing is one of my biggest weaknesses, so that’s a big deal. I can’t help it though, I want to give you a hug. I want you to be successful in life. I want you to find a sport you love even more. I want you to go practice like crazy and come back next year and prove me wrong.
I want you to know that being cut from a team, says NOTHING about you as a person. How you carry yourself through life, and how you treat the people around you. That’s what makes you such a rockstar. The Harry Potter quote comes to mind:
“If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” - Sirus Black in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Back to my point. You have control over so much of your life. Maybe not full control, but a lot of control. Do not allow my decision, or the decision of any other coach, to permanently alter your normally positive spirit.
You have to also consider that I feel this way about all the athletes I coach, so although I love standing around having a conversation with you, I enjoy those conversations with everyone, because everyone is so unique. Therefore, my enjoyment of you doesn’t give you much of an advantage, and in the end, my job is to put together a team.
This decision was so hard. I lost sleep. And when I finally was able to go to bed, I did so thinking about your role on the team. I thought about your impact on others. I looked for ways to keep you around. I thought about what we would miss out on by not having you there. I considered your future and what would be best. I also considered the team’s future and what the team needed at this point in time.
I woke up at 4:30am and started thinking about you again.
This may not have helped at all, right now. But when you are ready I want you to answer this question:
Do you love to play? Why?
If you love the sport for the sport, well then you need to ask your coach how to improve, and then you need to take the advice and run with it. Don’t stop training until next season’s tryout. Give it your best. You might not make the team, but at least you’ll know that you put everything into it. This is a huge gamble, you could waste a lot of time. I see that. That’s why you need to decide if it’s worth the risk of being in the same position next year. Do you love to play that much, or do you have another talent that no one knows about. Maybe you’re a secretly amazing singer and you could spend your time expanding that passion.
If you love the sport because you love being with your teammates. You should look at other sports opportunities. There are sports teams that need you, and teammates you who need you. Right now, today. You’ll be scared not knowing anyone, but you’ll make new friends fast.
I hope you understand that the choice of who is on the team is as impersonal as it is personal. We have an obligation to put a team together based on the right fit for this team, this season. It becomes whole heartedly personal when we get to the final stage of tryouts and we are sick to our stomaches when we know we are going to break hearts. We did not get into the life of coaching because we like to break hearts. We got into the life of coaching because we love kids.