Tonight's practice gave me a little insight into one of my players.
At the end of practice, I said, "Remember, same team. When one of your teammates messes up, what do you say to him."
"You got this."
Came the replies. But then one player spoke out and said, "But you shouldn't say that."
"Why?" I asked, truly curious as to what the reasoning could be.
"Cuz it makes you weak," he replied.
And I said, "But it's just the opposite. The other team is perfectly happy to tear you down, so it's up to your teammates to boost you up, to give you that confidence you need."
I'd like to say my words had a transformative effect one him, but I didn't see it, at least not then, not before he headed over to his father.
Where was he getting all that? I wondered because I really don't know.
And as I walked home with D to our car, we talked a bit about his conflict with this boy. They had been going head-to-head over something, and I had poorly responded, eventually having D switch partners.
But now with D in the car, I sat down on the sidewalk at his door and told him I understood that he was having conflict and knew he was upset. But that this other boy was getting a lot of negativity from somewhere, and so it would be our job to bring the positive. D said he understood and would try.
And then driving home, through the ellipses of streetlights, I felt for the first time that I knew why I was brought to the Hawks because unlike the nuances of dribbling and tackling, this emotional baggage I could understand -- or if I couldn't understand, I was at least sensitive to this child's emotional plight. Although I'm sure he -- or that voice in his head -- would consider my sensitivity weakness.