Several weeks ago I was at church with my children and listened to the pastor preach his final Sunday sermon. He summarized his 30 years of ministry and service with this phrase, “the memories are sweet.”
With the end of this fall sports season I close out my sixth year of coaching the girls’ tennis team and I am reminded of this simple phrase.
My introduction to coaching tennis began six years ago when my oldest daughter, Rollins ‘22, decided to stop playing volleyball (sorry Coach Bozarth!) and try out for the tennis team as a seventh-grade student. I did not know Caldwell lacked a head coach and needed help for the upcoming season. I joined alongside Chris Crouch that year as the assistant head coach and am so thankful for the opportunity Caldwell provided me that year and each year thereafter.
I started my coaching career coaching my oldest daughter, and for the last three years, I have been able to coach both of my girls. If a parent has never been involved with coaching/teaching your child, I can assure you it is not the easiest of tasks. The Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde moments began the first year and did not stop even into this year. One moment my daughters are thankful for my teaching. In the next, they tell me what I am saying is not working and is plain wrong. They are my biggest and toughest critics.
Coaching my daughters has been challenging, and yet so rewarding. As the girls have aged and have busier schedules, it has become increasingly hard to carve out one-on-one time with them. Tennis has provided this much-desired alone time with my girls. This time may only be for a car ride home from practice, or (prior to COVID) long road trips along Interstate 40 traveling to and from matches. The times in the car yielded great conversations and sometimes back-and-forth, argumentative discussions. I recall many times driving down the highway thankful car companies had not installed an eject button. I know my girls would have ejected me to the side of the highway!
Bus rides to Pinehurst, overnight trips to Wilmington and Asheville, and state tournament matches at Rocky Mount are just a few of my highlights with the teams the past few years.
I have watched many girls take up tennis who never picked up a tennis racquet before. In fact, I have even witnessed girls who had never played tennis before Caldwell develop into all-conference performers!
Our team lost a very close match this last month in the state tournament quarterfinals. It was the best match I have been a part of in my entire time at Caldwell. Our girls played with great intensity and showed great sportsmanship in a very difficult environment. I was fortunate to be on the court as my daughters played their last doubles match together. I was the first one to congratulate them after their final doubles win and I will never forget the times they played together. The match was filled with so many other great moments I will always remember. Our team gathered on the court at the conclusion of the match and I congratulated them on a fantastic season and struggled with the realization that I had just watched my Rollins play her last high school tennis match.
My six years with the Caldwell Athletics community have been awesome. The Lord has surrounded me with so many wonderful young women and families. I would encourage all families and students to participate on a team, even if their child has no prior experience in the sport.
Our season officially closed on November 4 with the team awards banquet. We recognized our outstanding achievements both individually and as a team. We will work to build on our success for next year. More importantly, we will always have the opportunity to reflect on the sweet memories of our season.