As we wind down the year 2020, a year in which Dictionary.com named the word “unprecedented” as its word of the year, I have been using some holiday downtime to think about 2021, and how to improve upon the challenges of the past 9 months. And the word I keep coming upon is “grace.” I do not mean grace in the biblical sense, but its more literal definition of “disposition to, or an act of kindness, courtesy and clemency.” I truly believe that we can make 2021 a better year through grace. How?
I believe we need to show grace to our children, who have truly experienced social separation, educational disruption, and athletic challenges that none of us parents have ever faced. They have been forced in front of screens, and isolated from their peers, and at times they are acting out. Can we approach them with grace and understanding?
I think 2021 calls for grace for our coaches, many of whom have had their lives and livelihoods interrupted and altered, and all of whom have navigated daily and weekly schedule changes, safety protocols, and more. They used to be in charge of keeping athletes safe, and now they are keeping entire communities safe while providing an outlet for children to be social and active. Coaches need our grace and understanding.
Our parents, league administrators and volunteers need our grace, as we have become home school teachers, epidemiology experts, zoom coaches, and navigated all of this while either working from home or going to a job or office that raises our risk of contracting a dangerous virus (often while forced to leave the kids at home to fend for themselves). They need our grace and understanding.
And finally, as my friend Ryan recently reminded me, show yourself some grace in these difficult times. You are not supposed to be perfect as a coach, parent or human being. Be patient and kind with yourself, understand and embrace your mistakes and challenges, and be sure to find time to laugh and to love.
So, my goal for 2021 is to approach all the kids I coach, their families, my fellow coaches, everyone charged with running leagues and events during these unprecedented times with more grace, my own family, and MYSELF with more understanding, more patience, more grace. And if we all could just take a deep breath before reacting, if we all could choose grace and kindness and mercy over impatience and anger we will be able to make the best out of whatever 2021 holds. I hope you all can join our team at Changing the Game Project on that mission. Happy New Year!