I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of change when I like what I’m doing. I’m fine with ordering the same winning combination, at a restaurant, time and time again. I have been contemplating one of the toughest decisions of my life since the end of the high school girl’s tennis season last October. Should I make this next boy’s season in the spring of 2022 the last one as head coach?
I’ve literally thought about it every day since mid-October. I still love coaching both the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams at Rock Bridge H S in Columbia, MO. There is natural high about what is initially an individual sport, to work together as a team for a common cause. It’s quite a rush when that happens, and you have success. I’ve been coaching team tennis each year since August of 1986. The first two years with the University of Missouri Women’s Team then at Hickman H S and then at Rock Bridge H S starting in August 1994. That’s just over 35 years. This is what I do each fall and spring. It is part of who I am, though people may say otherwise. Your passion defines you to yourself. You follow your joy.
Why consider a change now when I still enjoy it? Here are some factors for the change:
- My son just graduated from high school. He played on the team.
- My wife and I could start to spend time in the winter into the spring in Arizona. We both have a lot of history there. I went to graduate school at Arizona State University, and I taught tennis in the Phoenix area. I envisioned over 35 years ago returning to Arizona for part-time retirement living and possibly part-time tennis coaching.
- Okay I can admit it. I’ve reached the status/age of “Medicare-Man.” I’ve always envisioned coaching h s tennis both fall and spring until 5 years after I die. But maybe I should be open-minded to slowing up the pace in my life and for being a “team player” with my wife. She is much up for the proposed change. I’m not against it, but I have mixed feelings about it.
- A teacher at the high school told me “Leave the party while you are still having fun.” Some people stay around too long until they regret it.
I knew the combination of not liking change and liking what I’m doing, were holding me back, and possibly for good reason. Maybe I just wasn’t ready yet. I discovered along the process that tough decisions come with mixed emotions. I discovered it’s better to look forward at what the two alternatives will truly be like and project how you will feel. Don’t base the decision on how things made you feel in the past. Base the decision on which option is the better one for you moving forward. Tough decisions are tough because both alternatives are of value. I discovered it’s okay to sit with it for a while but don’t get stuck. No action is an action. There is an opportunity cost to no action and staying with the status quo.
After months of deliberation, talking it out with some people, and scouting out the Arizona alternative in person, I decided the better decision, was to make a change. It was beyond difficult. But the hard part was not over yet. The action part is also a challenge. It’s one thing to make a difficult decision and another thing to act on it. I gave myself a timeline to go into the athletic director and let him know. The hours leading up to our meeting were tough because I was getting ready to let go of something dear to my heart, because it is. He thought the meeting was strictly to discuss the girls high school schedule for next fall. But it was going to be more than that. In the days following my notifying him, I found peace inside me. I came to accept that difficult decisions are made with mixed feelings. But you still need to make them anyway.
I remember as a young boy my dad guaranteed me, I would be okay if I jumped off the high dive at the pool. I jumped and found out I was safe. But that was one of the last guarantees I remember in life. The rest deals with probability. You need to take calculated risks on tough decisions. My youngest sister told me years ago that my dad would make tough decisions and not look back. He moved forward with the decision with conviction. No second guessing. I need to do the same.