A couple months ago I posted a story on instagram about an experience I had with one of my tumbling students.
This particular student is eight years old has a few extra trials that most 8 year olds I teach don’t have. When I first met this friend of mine he was terrified to even do a forward roll and would hardly jump on a trampoline because of his anxiety and would just repeat over and over again “but teacher it makes me too nervous.” My most common phrase I’d say to this friend of mine is “Be brave.” And you’d better believe we’ve had a several long talks about what it means to be brave. Earlier this week we were in class when I was working with my class on the trampoline. I asked them to climb up on a large box that is bigger than they are, jump off of it onto a trampoline, then continue doing specific jumps down the trampoline. When this friend’s turn came he wobbled up the box and climbed to his feet. I was fully expecting another spout of fear so I looked at him and said “are you brave?” And he just gave me a big thumbs up and said “I’m gonna rock it teacher!!” And just like that he jumped right off that box and did some of the prettiest jumps I’ve ever seen him do. You’d better believe there were tears in my eyes because at that moment I was reminded why I love what I do so darn much.
I have experiences like this all the time as a tumbling coach.
There are moments in every person’s life that are monumental. For most gymnasts, some of those events include learning difficult skills for the first time or accomplishing things that are difficult for them.
There is a special moment in each of these experiences that pierce every coach right to the center.
These moments usually happen seconds after the athlete has accomplished something difficult. It’s the moment when the athlete looks at their coach with joy in their eyes as if to say “coach! Look what you helped me do!”
I had three of these moments yesterday. The first was when one of my competitive athletes did her back handspring by herself for the first time. The other two were when some other athletes connected multiple back handsprings in a row that they had never done before.
That look. The look at the very end of this video. Is the reason I coach.
It’s in these moments I’m reminded why I do what I do. I’m reminded that I love these kids. I’m reminded how cool it is that I get to play a tiny part in the big events in someone else’s life.
Because it’s not about the flips or the fancy tricks, but it’s about believing in someone more than they believe in themselves. And I’ve learned that if you believe in them long enough, they’ll start to believe too. And that means everything to me because I’ve been that athlete before that’s been blessed because someone has believed in me.
The moment I did my first back handspring. The moment I landed my first full. The moment I found out I had qualified for my first national championships.
I know in each of these moments I looked towards my coaches with this same look of joy in my eyes. Because I knew they had put in just as much effort as I had. And they cared about me.
Those are moments I will forever be grateful for.
So everytime an athlete looks at me like that… I think of them. I think about how they believed in me. I think about how they impacted my life. And that means the world.
So go tell someone that you believe in them. See what happens.