This is about the fourth time I have attempted to write a reflection on this season with my Westlake High School program. I wanted to write for all of you that have been following my journey with this program, and because writing has always been my way of processing my emotions. The past few days have been filled with so many of them, as our season came to an end on Thursday. Now that the dust has settled, there’s really only one overwhelming feeling I can’t let go of, and that’s gratitude.
After seeing the West Ranch (team that beat us) parents yesterday in their semifinal game, and hearing how much the gesture of roses and hugs before we played meant to them, I feel grateful that our team was able to give them some semblance of comfort on a day that for many of them was the hardest they’ve faced in their young lives. I am grateful to my parents, who gave me this heart and taught me to empathize and care about everyone I interact with. I am grateful that in this small gesture, I helped those girls, and I helped my players learn how far a small act of kindness can go. I am beyond grateful that all my kids, my friends, and family are here with me and healthy. I still cannot imagine the hurt so many of them are experiencing during this difficult time.
I am grateful for my friends and family, who have been my support system and rocks throughout this transition and season. I am grateful they allowed me to go on and on about this team and let me pick their brains about x’s and o’s as I navigated my first go at being a head coach. They listened, cheered, watched film (thanks Ozer), and even came to our practice. Even at times when I doubted myself, they were there to pick me back up.
I am grateful for the Westlake parents, who embraced me from the very first day I arrived. Always checking in to see if I needed anything, even a place to crash after our late night practices. I am grateful they raised such amazing girls that I had the pleasure of coaching, and the unwavering support has just meant the world to me.
I feel grateful for Meghan Toomey and Randy Grube because without them I wouldn’t have been here in the first place. I am grateful for Allie Jarman, our varsity and JV assistant coach, who became our JV head coach because it was just me and her to run two practices simultaneously. On days when I was unsure of what I was doing, she was always there to reassure me that everything was going to work out.
I am grateful for my kids, even though they’re not kids, I just call them all my children endearingly. Somehow, instead of thinking I was a total nut (they actually might still think that) and not buying into the team and culture I was trying to create, they actually did. They worked so hard throughout the season during our practices, lifts, and conditioning sessions. I’m grateful that every time I opened up to them and was vulnerable, they thanked me and accepted me. Every time I had some odd activity we were doing, they went all in. It’s a running joke about someone ending up crying during these, even though that was never my intent, but rather, to break down barriers that so many high school girls put up in an effort to seem like they have it all together. I wanted them to know what I knew, and that’s everyone faces struggles in their own way. I wanted these girls to truly know and see each other for the people they are, not just the players they are. I wanted them to feel cared about, know that they mattered, and know that in our family they belonged. I am grateful for these girls for giving me such purpose in my life, especially when I think back to how much I struggled over the past few years with my mental health. When I go back to life in those dark places, it makes me so grateful that I am here and am able to experience this gift of my life now. I am brought to tears nearly every time I think about it. They truly helped me as much as I helped them.
I am so grateful for all of my coaches in life who have shaped me to be the coach I am today. I am grateful for the opportunity to not only give my love of the game to young girls, but to empower, inspire, and motivate them to be the best at what they do off the field too. That’s all I ever wanted out of all of this, was to have girls love the game as much as I do, and to help them succeed beyond it. I am so grateful for all the struggles I have faced both on and off the field because they have made me the person I am and the coach I am. My goal was to create an environment where the girls don’t have to be afraid of being themselves, making mistakes, or not belonging the way I did. I’m not sure if this ideal truly came to fruition, but I know this season was something special. I can’t exactly put it into words, but those involved with the program likely know what I mean.
It wasn’t perfect by any means, having two teams practicing at the same time, I definitely lost touch with the JV team, despite starting off so connected. One game we were up by 10 goals and I completely forgot to put in everyone because I got too into the game, but just like with any mistake, you own it and give your best effort to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We’re all human, there will be mistakes along the way, but I’ve come to find it’s how we respond and learn from those mistakes that make us the people we are.
I always worried about this part of coaching, the end of the season. If you know me well, you know that I care so much about everything I do and everyone in my life. Sometimes, it can be a fault, I will admit, which is why I was worried how I would handle all of this coming to an end, and then going through this every year. For a while, I was flipping between tears of happiness and sadness, but now I can just smile and I feel overwhelmingly grateful for this experience, and because when one season ends, a new one begins.
Now I begin the transition to club lacrosse with Fire Lacrosse, continuing to pursue my certifications, hopefully running some camps and clinics this summer, along with all kinds of individual training, and of course, watching all of May Madness. For most of my team, I don’t have to say goodbye, and to my seniors, I know they’ll come back for breaks to visit. Even though it won’t be the same without them, I am so excited for them to experience the next phase of life, and hopefully, they can take pieces from the season with them during their transition (especially the breathing, trust me it will always make everything better!). Thank you all for reading and following this journey of life with me, and as always don’t be afraid to reach out with questions!