Empowerment & Back-Having...



By Ruth Brennan Morrey (ruthbrennanmorrey.com)  


Mid-July, two enthusiastic players from my U10 girls soccer team excitedly set off to a 5-day local day camp. Improving ball skills, preparing for the fall season, and having fun was the objective. After the second day, however, one player had a mysterious stomach ache and was picked up from camp mid-morning, while the other player erupted into tears the moment she buckled herself into the back of her mom’s car upon noon pick-up.  Both players, independently, stated they never wanted to go back to camp. “We hate it” was the message—their shared attitude was the antithesis of what “Coach Ruth” grew to admire.  As it eventually surfaced, ‘mean kids’ were having a great old time targeting the two girls with incessant verbal teasing and distracting them from camp enjoyment. The 20-year old camp coach was oblivious to the dynamics....


When I heard about the girls’ unwillingness to return to camp, I told one of the parents that ‘Coach Ruth’ would talk to the girls that night. A good conversation with Coach may serve as an opportunity for growth.




Empower the girls to solve their own problem. Do not rescue. Teach them skills. 




Nothing captivates and inspires young athletes more than real world stories, even if their introverted coach has to ‘take one for the team’ and become vulnerable herself. Randomly popping into my head in that teachable moment, I selected a particular sporting story that had been vividly engrained within my emotional memory box. Surprisingly, however, the story hadn’t been retold since the day it occurred, a few days after June 21st, 1993—not even to my husband.


As I sat down privately with the girls, the story came to life again. I told them about a soccer game in which I played after my mother, Constance, passed away unexpectedly when I was 17 years old—a life changing experience as one can imagine. The game was two short days after her death. No one on my team could believe that “Ruthie” showed up promptly at 4pm to HyVee North, the meeting place for a 1 ½ hour bus journey to an “AWAY” game in Eagan, MN.  My emotions were raw, but as a teenager, there was nothing I wanted to do more than play soccer to help me get through the toughest times and to regain normalcy.  READ MORE




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