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Coach A's Newsletter: Here for U

Apr 28, 2022

Last night we traveled to L.A. and our plane was delayed, so we showed up here about an hour behind schedule. Being in L.A. and needing to hustle doesn't usually work out well. Thankfully things went pretty smooth after we landed and our practice time was only shortened by a little.
The team just started taking finals. They will all be done with schoolwork by Tuesday evening when we are back at home and face off against BYU. I'm really looking forward to next Tuesday for them, since they always seem to enjoy the game more once they have a break from the demands of school. 
Until then, they will be juggling quite a bit. Even though we don't talk about it much, this is how things are for most of the year for a student athlete. It's hard and what they do as student athletes is very hard. If you haven't done it yourself or aren't close to someone who has, then maybe you don't know this.  
I was a student athlete long ago and I've coached for over 20 years, so I know this very well. I've seen the struggles and have lived them as well. 
With the events happening recently as more and more student athletes are struggling with their mental health, and even taking their lives, I have learned I need to stop and recognize that fact more often. I need to talk about it more too. Speaking truth is better for everyone, even if all that is happening is saying that you recognize how hard it is. That validation is critical. 
My hope is that athletes can get to know themselves and can continue this relationship with themselves forever. When they know themselves, they can use their voice to get what it is that they need. My job is to encourage that process and then, when they speak up, my job is to listen. 
This game can oftentimes be a nice escape from the hard things in "real life", and yet at the level we compete at, the game can bring a lot of pressure. That pressure is oftentimes a privilege and something that is beneficial to learning and growing. It is beneficial, all the way until it's not. 
Knowing how the pressure is helping or hindering is an important way to find out if it's healthy or harmful. The athletes can tell you how it is landing for them. They know best and I need to encourage them to speak up and give them support when they do. 
I need to ask them to share more often. I need to encourage them more too. I need to provide them with support. I've signed up for this job and I need to do better. 
At the end of the day, the game is something we play, it's not who we are. The character-building student athletes can develop while competing should be something that is useful for them. A place to grow and to learn about themselves and what they want and need in order to thrive as an individual. 
We can all do better. We can all check in more. We can all ask more questions. We can all listen more. These aren't hard things and they seem to be what we are being asked to do. So, I plan to do better. 
As I find opportunities off the field with my athletes, while they are between finals and our games this weekend, I plan to ask more questions and to listen to them. I want them to be seen and heard more by me. 
I want them to share with me how they are doing, how they are REALLY doing, so they can have a chance to have the game be what it was intended to be when they signed up to play when they were little. A whole lot of fun in the midst of a lot of hard. 
I'm hoping some of you are in LA and have a ticket to the game tonight to watch and to support this group. They have worked very hard to prepare to knock off the Bruins tonight. I believe in my heart they can do it. 
Go Utes!
Coach A
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