Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

I must have a face that says to people tell me your life story…no…don’t hold back…there is nothing like “TMI”, All Information Is Welcome here…

I was in a shop today, treating myself to something special, because it’s a special day for me and I heard the clerk on the phone with an angry customer. She hung up and told me that the customer was upset with her but that there wasn’t anything she could do about it. I, in turn, told the clerk to let it go, it’s out of her control and that everything was fine…she immediately connected with me from those few words I said to her. As she was ringing up my purchase, she had asked if I read “The Onion”. I’ve heard of it, but I wasn’t an avid reader of their articles. She said that her husband had read an article about “open marriages” and he wanted to try it.

I looked around me and soon found out I was the only one in the small shop. She told me that she was open to it, because “who has traditional marriages anymore???” ….I said…

“Well…I do. 21 years as a matter of fact. Today is my anniversary.” And then she floored me by saying, well…maybe you…but no one else does. Wow. Am I a freak? I know the next X-Men movie is coming up this summer so I’ll be anxious to see if monogamous marriage couples are the next new “mutants”.

I grabbed my bag and told her to have a good evening and bolted out the door. On the drive home, I did think about what she said and about 10 years ago, my first venture into volunteer coaching happened all because of a pair of open marriage swingers. My youngest little diva was in first grade and signed up for softball. At the first practice, I went up to her coach and assistant coach, both dads, and offered my help. They looked at each other and kinda nodded to each other. I didn’t think much of it. The next couple practices, things seemed a little tense and by the 4th practice some of the girls had stopped showing up.

About 3 weeks in, I went up to both of them just before practice and said, “Hey, I can totally help you guys, I’ve played before, maybe having a girl coach might be good for the girls.” I must have been totally naive because what happened next was a shocker. I was thanked for still talking to them, it seemed that most parents and the softball board were running these two coaches out of the league because they were “swingers” and had swung with each others’ wives with one couple falling in love and a soon to be divorce on the way. The funny thing was at that first practice, when I had gone up to them, they had thought I “knew” and wanted in on “the action”.

“uhm…no thanks, I just wanted to volunteer coach the girls…”

“Yeah…we kinda knew that when you brought your glove to the next practice…” whew…good thing I brought my softball glove to a softball practice. Geeshe.

Eventually, that summer, I went on to head coach that team with another mom as my assistant and I coached softball another four years after that. I’m a better parent of a sports player because I’ve been a coach. That chic’s story in the jewelry shop just got me to thinking about how I started my coaching career….

it’s always good to be open minded…you just never know what volunteer opportunities may “swing” your way….


{April 19, 2011}   Coaching for Purpose…

It’s funny how when you do a job for 40+ hours a week it bleeds into the rest of your life. On some of those days when I’m not managing library volunteers, I coach girls volleyball. 15-year-old girls to be exact. This past weekend we had a tournament and with 15-year-old girls comes 15-year-old girl drama. That I can handle. It’s the parents that sometimes I can’t, but this weekend was different. I was without an assistant coach, so with the permission of the girls, I asked each one of their parents to volunteer coach with me from the bench. It’s probably the best thing I’ve done all season.

People need a purpose. It was interesting that when I asked them to step over to the bench with me and take over a time out, how quiet things got. It’s very different in the huddle then it is from the sideline. You’ve got 8 girls looking at you like “tell me what to do, coach.”  I must say, this group of parents really stepped up. They were encouraging, helpful and happy to be on the bench with me. I call all the parents by their daughter’s name, Mr. Katie, Mrs. Kelly, Momma Emma, Mr. Abby. It’s easier on me and that’s why I do it. I only had some trouble when during an official’s time out to do a line up check for the other team, Mr. Katie walked out on the court with his Pepsi, straw in mouth,  to chat with our girls. I had to yell for him to come back…can’t do that, Mr. Katie, the other team will get a point. He strolled back. He was cool with that. All was good in his world.

As with any group, there is always  one in the bunch that takes their role very seriously and for me its Mr. Jaimie. He’s our team medic. Rotating elbows, applying ice, band-aids, recommending stretches and such. After a few games he put together a tackle box full of supplies, tape, pre-wrap, ice packs, padding, gauze. He said the one thing he questioned about getting or not was Quick Clot. I was a little unsure of that choice…were we expecting grenade blasts? shrapnel? machine gun fire? Soon after he told me he had seen a power hit into the face of the opposing team on another court, blood gushing from the nose of the girl who took the hit to the face…he crossed his arms and snapped his fingers in an “aww dang it/shucks” kind of way. He should have gotten the Quick Clot. He’d get some for us for the next tournament. None of our girls were going to bleed out on his watch.

That kind of passion and dedication elevated him from Mr. Jaimie to Doc Jaimie. He liked that. He has purpose, and that’s all that matters.

et cetera
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