This weekend I got to coach kids for the first time at a competition. It’s an interesting perspective considering I’ve never coached anyone. I made sure I got there before everyone else and stationed myself on a bench outside and waited for everyone to show. Hailie was the first with a huge smile when she saw me which was a good sign. She seemed relaxed. Both Noah and Desiree trickled in soon there after and for the following hour or so we just waited around as they played and we took a few pictures together. Fortunately Philip and Tony came by to help. Tony took pictures and Philip helped coach Hailie since she ended up on the opposite end of the mats.
Noah told me that he had a thousand butterflies in his stomach. I told him that it was only natural and that I got them too which surprised him. We sat down at one point when he wanted know how the scoring worked. I kept it as basic as possible and told him to just do what he’s been doing in class which I think helped him out a bit.
With the rules meeting out of the way and the national anthem played they finally started calling up divisions. I could tell the kids were all a little nervous so I pulled him aside and told them something to the effect of I didn’t care if they won or lost, that I didn’t care about the medal. All I wanted them to do was have fun, work their game, and give it their all. There were times after being brought to the designated mats where I could see them grow little worried. Having Noah and Desiree on neighboring mats allowed me to walk back and forth and keep them relaxed, occasionally asking what was it that I wanted them to do today.
“Have fun, play my game, and do my best.”
They did AWESOME! I could not have been more proud and it really wasn’t about the wins and losses. I was proud of how they handled themselves over all in winning and losing. If I remember correctly Noah was able to win every match he was in by submission, specifically the armbar. What impressed me most was the fact that he started actually coaching one of the kids in his division that he beat earlier. After one of the other kids he fought started crying after their match he consoled and hugged him.
Desiree won her first two fights with aggression and some beautiful technique. She was beaming with pride with every win. While she did come up short in the finals to a boy who was stronger and a bit more skilled, she NEVER gave up. She kept trying, kept pushing forward until the very end. She came off the mat in tears but she had nothing to be embarrassed or sad about. I told her how proud I was and Philips helped console her as best we could.
In the end the Gracie HQ and La Mesa kids came away with three golds and two silvers. They all earned medals, but most importantly fought incredibly hard. Noah’s dad thanked me at one point and my response was, “This is all Regis’ doing.” All I did was show up on competition day which is the easier part if I’m being honest.
In the end my hope is that the kids and the parents feel I did a good job in coaching them. It really is something I want to continue doing in the future. I appreciate them entrusting me and Regis for giving me the opportunity to fill in for him.
Thank you everyone!!