Tag Archives: coaching

Coaching through Covid-19…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Romans chapters 14 and 15: I really encourage reading both chapters in their entirety. I found clear discernment in them as I served and coached through the past six months. Here is the first part of chapter 15…

“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.


Every moment of every day we all make a choice: Am I going to build people up or tear them down? Another way to think about this is to ask the question, “Do I exist simply to please myself or does God put breath in my lungs so that I can serve others as I share His love?

I’ve been a “part time” coach for the past 24 years. I was an athlete for more than a decade before that. Picture the high school kid who trained four hours a day and went to nationals instead of prom 🙂 That was me! Swimming and running were my refuge during my teenage years. Looking back, I can see how God placed the sports in my life to help me grow and refine the sense of integrity and discipline that He placed deep within my soul. Today, God continues to use athletics to shape my heart. I love the kids that He brings to me. I love them in a genuine way that teaches me about compassion, mercy, and sacrifice. My athletes are a critical part of my faith journey, and God just keeps bringing on the blessings with each season that passes.

In my mind, Jesus is the ultimate coach. He came to seek, to serve, and to save. No one was insignificant in his eyes. Everyone was worthy of love. During his time on earth, He never ran out of patience and always took the time to pour into the people in his life. His unselfish consideration of others provides a lofty goal that drives me to try to love better and ultimately to coach better. There is not a day that passes that I don’t ask myself, “am I being considerate in order to build others up?” In all honesty, the answer to that question sometimes slaps me in the face as I realize that I have stumbled. But, when I think about what has helped me the most as I coached through covid, it is being intentional about making the choice to build others up.

I remember our preacher saying years ago, “What comes out of you during stressful times shows what exists in your heart.”

I pray each day that what comes out of me is love.


Together we are stronger!

I have a list of ideas that God placed on my heart while coaching in 2020. Today, I share them in the hopes that they will inspire and help you as you serve.

  • Certainty is scarce, and fear is abundant. I must be steadfast and rooted in Jesus’ love so that my athletes can find strength and confidence in our relationship.
  • When hope and love come alive, fear falls apart. Community and team provide a support structure that breeds positive energy. As the athletes look around them in the huddle, they have hope and they sense love. They know that they matter and that they belong.
  • Living is important. That means showing up, giving your all, and leading with your heart. Every practice counts. Every race or game is a blessing. Choose to live, be a contributor!
  • Patience and perseverance go hand in hand. Am I tough enough to love first? Am I gentle enough to inspire consideration within the team? Am I humble and strong enough to sacrifice repeatedly for my brothers and sisters?
  • Knowledge makes us feel important, but it is love that builds strength (1Corinthians 8:1). In 2020, more than any time in my coaching career, love mattered. God brought me athletes in a myriad of different emotional states, but they all needed love. There was a deep need in the kids to realize that receiving and sharing love drives hope.
  • Courage is contagious. And, it starts with heart-felt leadership. Working hard together means more because it builds a culture of sacrifice and consideration of others.

When we choose to love, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to build each other up. This is the basis of TEAM (together everyone achieves more). My daily prayer is that our kids will continue to have the ability to engage in church, school, sports, and a variety of team activities that teach them the importance of Jesus’ call to love in community 🙂

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Genuine hearts…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s epistle to the Romans 12: 9-13

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”


Sometimes, I read the Bible and I struggle to figure out what God is trying to tell me. Other times, I read the Bible and the message is so obvious that it’s like a friendly smack on the face! I’ve experienced both of those feelings as I studied Paul’s letter to the Romans. Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, I’ve been mainly reading in the New Testament spending time in the Gospels of Luke and John in addition to studying Paul’s epistles. In all honesty, as I read God’s Word, I am searching for a daily roadmap. I need it as I strive to love and serve my family, my community, and the young people that God brings across my path. 2020 has been a year of challenge, and I have tried to be careful to remind myself each day “to look up to the audience that matters” in order to find discernment to lead me through it.

Some days I do a better job of that than others, but I pray that each day God sees my “try” and creates in me a merciful, servant heart.

I spent last week teaching 6th and 7th grade math as a substitute. I am still in the midst of the Cross Country season, so that meant 10+ hour days surrounded by kids. I was pretty well “immersed” 😉 One thing that God placed on my heart over and over again throughout the week was the need to be genuine. I remember an old horse trainer telling me decades ago – “Anne, that horse doesn’t care how much you know until he understands how much you care.” That day, the trainer was reminding me that “cranial knowledge” sometimes needs to take a backseat to the heart and its discernment of right and wrong. I thought about that repeatedly last week as I tried to remember middle school math and keep the kids moving forward in a disciplined fashion. I hope that they figured out over our five days together how much I care about them and the work that we were asked to do together. 


I don’t know why we are sometimes tempted to “pretend”, or to create a farce as we live our lives. But, I think that Paul’s reminder up above speaks clearly and boldly about God’s expectation of our hearts. We are called to be genuine, to love without reservation and with great affection. As we love with true hearts, we are also asked to work hard, to serve enthusiastically, to rejoice with hope, and to be patient in times of challenge. Perhaps most importantly, we are asked to be steadfast in our prayers in order to give Jesus the ability to replenish our hearts so that they continue to bless others as they run over with love. The expectation is that we lead with our hearts, always eager to help those in need. 

“God loves a cheerful giver” (2Corinthians 9:7).

For years, I thought that God cared most about my actions – for the work that I accomplished. The more time that I spend in His Word and around the kids that He places in my life, the more I realize that what God cares most about is my heart. I’ve decided that I don’t need a “task list” to give me a report card at the end of my day. Instead, I need a “genuine meter” that assesses the sincerity of my heart. Good work can’t help but spill out from a heart that loves with Grace. The works are the fruit of the heart and a demonstration of the love that lives there. This is the evidence of God’s presence in our earthly world. This is how the Good News is shared.

It’s okay to be different. It is good to be genuine. God asks us to be real. It honors and points to our heavenly Father when the sincerity and compassion of our hearts provides the roadmap to our days 🙂

 

 

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The Three P’s…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to Philippians 3: 12-14


“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”


We are deeply in the midst of the Cross Country season. Like many coaches, I am searching for inspiring words to keep my athletes working hard and moving forward. This is a difficult time: bodies are tired, legs hurt, brains struggle to focus, and the temptation to settle is very real. We get trapped by thinking about how hard practice was yesterday instead of concentrating on the gift of being able to practice today. It is a time when success is found as we look outside of ourselves to be inspired by those around us. It is a series of moments when we can choose to press on in love.

In my almost 46 years, love is the only thing I’ve found that inspires me to sacrifice and to move into hard places. For me, love inspires the three P’s. When my heart chooses to love, I am driven with passion, perseverance, and patience. Those that know me well understand that passion to put in the work and to persevere are things that come naturally to me. I am a work horse with a belly full of oats who always sees and moves toward the home barn on the horizon. I’m one of those goofy people that lives to sweat and to push the envelop of the impossible. The one of the three P’s that causes me to struggle is patience. When the Holy Spirit blessed me with gifts, patience fell somewhere at the bottom of the list 😉

Being a mom and working as a coach has taught me to develop patience. I love the kids and that inspires me to work to become a better version of myself. Patience is still #3 on the list, but God is using love for those around me to inspire me to do it better. My leg has played an important role in that process. Those of you that have read FYF faithfully over the years, realize that I am almost two years into a struggle to gain full use of my right leg. A crazy ice-induced accident left the bottom of my leg shattered. Three surgeries and 19 months later, the three P’s – fueled by love – are bringing me traction.


I started trying to run again last spring about 15 months after the accident. My leg did not handle it well and I prayed for trust, for hope, for discernment. I stopped running and continued to rehab in the pool because I knew that I needed to put in patient work. I knew that I needed to press on in trust. I knew that Jesus struggled with me, and cried those same tears of frustration each time the pain left me limping.

I made a goal of running with the Junior High Cross Country team this fall because I knew that God had strategically planted me as an XC coach. I knew that the kids were going to need me as they embarked on their running journey. There is just something really special about a coach who sweats, hurts, and works with the team. It doesn’t just build good athletes, it creates good humans 🙂 That’s the coach that I believe God made me to be, so I believed that He would answer my prayer.

And He did.

We are thirty days into the season and I’m running. From 800 repeats to longer aerobic runs, God carries me daily. It’s not without work, sacrifice, and pain. But, it’s there. And, it fills my heart because I know that it is fueled by a God who shows up for me and for the kids that he brings into my life. He loves in a way that leaves me inspired – with passion, perseverance and patience.

Together, I pray that God will help all of us to more fully understand the beauty of running the race all of the way to the finish line!

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The Facade…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Mark 4: 21-22

Parable of the Lamp

“Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.”


I recently heard Coach Ron Brown speak. Coach Brown is a successful football coach and Christian mentor, and currently serves as Director of Player Development under Scott Frost and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He returned to the Big Red last year after a few years away from the program. There’s something special about Coach Brown – he wears his faith well – and genuinely reflects Jesus’ love to the athletes that he serves. In short, he’s real.

That night, I bought a copy of his new book, Sports Parables. It’s left me thinking about the value of “the story”. Jesus often taught using parables. The Greek prefix “para” means to come alongside something in order to magnify truth. The Gospels are full of Jesus’ parables as he lived to clarify and define what a life of faith looks like. To me, using stories to teach inspires reflection — I know that as I read them, they stick in my mind as I work to figure them out 🙂


I love the Parable of the Lamp. Forms of it appear in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Jesus is all about the light. He’s it! When we walk with Him, we live in His light and are able to reflect that light to others. It’s like placing a lamp on a table so that everyone can share it. Light allows discernment and opens the door to unconditional love. As it glows, it highlights each one of our stories and declares us children of God.

In my mind, the most beautiful thing about Jesus’ light is that it has no facade. It’s real – it’s genuine – and it is just as awesome on the inside as it is on the outside. It warms my heart like a beautiful sunny fall day. Despite the loving warmth of Jesus’ light, the transparency of the light causes some to shy away instead of drawing near. It brings all that is hidden into the open, which can be a bit unsettling if you’re short on confidence or think you have something to hide.

We can’t fool God. He can see through any facade that we build. And, he loves us anyway. He uses us – and our stories – to share His love and His light with others. He doesn’t expect perfection, he simply asks for our hearts and an earnest faith that inspires us to live for Him. This reminds me that I don’t need to worry about a facade – I simply need to draw near to Jesus as I live my life so that He can use me to make Holy Moments with Him 🙂

I started coaching out of love for athletics. Twenty + years later, I coach because sharing the love that Jesus puts in my heart brings my life joy and purpose. In Matthew’s version of the Parable of the Lamp (Matt 5:14-16), Jesus reminds us that when we serve others by sharing love, then we enable His light to shine . I pray that the athletes that God brings into my path can feel the love of Jesus and the warmth of His light as we travel the journey together.

*You can learn more about Coach Ron Brown by visiting http://www.kingdomsports.online.

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What are you LOOKING for?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Mark 4: 21-25

The Parable of the Lamp:

“Then Jesus asked them, ‘Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.’

Then he added, ‘Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given — and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.'”


I think that what we see in our lives is directly related to what we are looking for. Personal introspection causes me to realize that attitude and perspective set the stage for not only how I view each day but also how I chose to experience it. Last winter, I bought a sweatshirt that said Choose Joy on it. I purchased it intentionally as I was going through a difficult time – a time when I had to remind myself daily that looking for the light allowed me to see God’s grace no matter how dark things appeared.

I could choose joy or I could wallow in self-pity and unhappiness.

The choice was mine, and I needed to own it.

The Haymaker Swim Team spent a lot of time talking about attitude on the pool deck this summer. It was a natural out-pouring of where I was in my own life. I spent significant time this winter and spring praying to ask God to fill my heart with peace and hope. I needed Jesus’ light to define my attitude and grant me the peace that brought joy and hope.

I found it when I made it less about me, and more about Him.


I don’t know for sure what my swimmers internalized in their hearts this summer, but I know that God provided the core of our team. He healed my heart as I intentionally placed His lamp on a stand to share with my athletes. We learned to trust as courageous faith called us to finish strong each and every day. I spent the summer watching our team grow in our understanding of God while we built a foundation based on faith and fueled by hard work.

On Saturday we took 49 swimmers to the Championship Meet and brought home 92 individual medals to hang around our necks. In addition, 5 of our relays set league records and brought home another 24 top 8 place finishes. We found victory as Jesus took our outstretched hands and filled our souls with the fire that comes from confident hope. We made Holy Moments on the pool deck and in the water. We made mistakes and learned from them. Most importantly, we did our best to share the love that creates community.

Blessings follow obedience.

I could say many things about the 2019 year, but the message that fills my heart today as I look in faith is:

When we chose to look for God’s light – and set it on a stand to share – then it becomes easy to see the grace that brings the ultimate victory. The more that we see, the more that we can understand the compounding nature of Jesus’ mission.

 

 

 

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Find the Rainbow…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Genesis 9: 12-14

Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is a sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.”


I am notorious amongst the young athletes that I coach for having “inspirational sayings”. They just seem to roll off my tongue. Some of them I borrow from others, and some just pop into my mind in the moment. I believe that the ones that simply “pop into my head” come from the Holy Spirit and I tend to cling to them with loyalty. Sometime, I should sit down and make a list of all of them. Better yet, I should ask my athletes to make a list of them 😉

I believe that attitude shapes experience. No matter where our journey takes us, the way that we perceive our daily experiences determines our ability to not only find joy in the moment but also to evolve and learn for the future. When we approach life determined to find the rainbow, then each day becomes an opportunity rather than an ordeal.

The difference between opportunity and ordeal may not seem that big a deal on the surface, but I believe it to be profound.

Let me share a story from last summer.

I have a group of junior high and high school athletes that gather on the pool deck at 6:00am every weekday during the summer for swimming practice before they go on to their days working jobs and practicing for other sports. In the moment — as we gather to begin each morning — I *may* be the only one of us truly excited for each morning workout 🙂 The words, find the rainbow, often pop out of my mouth during those times.

One morning, after a thunderstorm had blown through, we were in the water in the midst of a difficult set. One of the boys said, “hey look there’s a rainbow”. I suspect that he was trying to distract Coach Anne to get some extra rest at the wall, but I humored him by pausing and looking in the sky before we left for the next interval. While I did not immediately find a rainbow in the sky, about twenty minutes later — as we were finishing up the workout with some sprints — God brought us a beautiful one. On a regular day, we might have missed it because it was a small one in the shape of a vertical sundog. But, we were looking for it since the motto for the day had turned into different ways we could look for the rainbow.

As the summer progressed, we found many rainbows together — some in the sky and some in our hearts. In each instance, we found them because we were intentionally looking for them 🙂


God reminds us in the book of Genesis that a rainbow is a special sign from Him.

It is the sign of a covenant.

It is a beautiful physical image that depicts a promise.

To me, it is a reminder of eternal hope. I make the intentional choice to take the image with me every day as I pack my faith. The challenges will still come. However, my perspective – my attitude – allows those challenges to be opportunities rather than burdensome ordeals. Over time, I’ve figured out that it’s really not about the challenge itself. Rather, it’s about how I embrace God’s grace in my daily life to live with honor.

Last week, I transitioned from my post-surgery cast to a hard cast. As I looked at my pathetically bruised leg and it’s 8″ incision, I might have wanted to cry. But then I remembered my own advice. Find the rainbow. So, I covered the leg with a colorful reminder. Every time that I look at it, I remember God’s covenant. I remember that He loves me. I remember that it’s not my job worry about the “why”. It’s my job to focus on the “how”.

I honor God when I pack an attitude of love and positivity. Great things come out of hard times. Noah packed his faith to live with grace in a way that brings great perspective to my own challenges. He did his part and I can too.

How does God inspire you during times of challenge?

 

 

 

 

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Worthy…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from John 14: 27

“I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.


I love the life lessons that athletics teach. That is what fuels me on a daily basis to keep coaching. Sometime during my coaching tenure, I learned the hard lesson that a good coach loves their athletes more than they love the sport or the win. I don’t think that it was a passionate “aha” moment, but rather an on-going personal development in my leadership skills that led me to this realization. I know that it is something that I remind myself often as I wear the “coaching hat”.

Over the decades, I have noticed a recurring challenge that appears most often in my female athletes. Interestingly enough, it is also something that I struggled with during my own athletic career. It is a simple question that carries huge implications (both in athletic performance and in life).

Am I worthy of the win?

An innate sense of worth is critical to athletic performance. Google defines worth as “sufficiently good, important or interesting enough to justify a specific action.” I see it determine the way that the athlete perceives him/herself as well as how he/she internally formulates their role on the team. It dictates whether an athlete is all in and able to own the game. What the fans notice most is athletic performance — what I see as a coach goes much deeper than that.

Am I good enough to deserve to win sets the stage for the athletic performance. It can be both transient and permanent — it depends on the athlete and it depends on the day! While the status within each player’s mind might fluctuate, the effects of the answer are steadfast.

  • A worthy athlete plays with confidence
  • A worthy athlete plays with resilience
  • A worthy athlete is better able to look outside of themselves to play a leadership role on the team

Why girls?

I think that girls struggle with this challenge more than boys because they live in a world that constantly compares them and often expects perfection in order to grant value. As a result, girls are cautious. If they do not have 100% confidence that they can do it right, then they chose to hold back. In a teenage girl’s mind, there are different levels of failure. And, while none of them are appealing some hurt more than others. They believe that:

it is better to hold a piece of themselves back and fall short than it is to give it everything that they have and still not win.


A couple of years ago, I coined the phrase pack your faith to compete with grace. There are many implications to this mantra, but I thought of the young women that I coach when I put the words together. As a coach, I can run drills and practice so that my girls internalize what they are supposed to do and gain confidence that they can perform the tasks necessary to bring home the win. As a coach, I can also love them and encourage them to believe. But, I cannot fill their hearts with the peace of Jesus that will carry them in the moment of competition when they need it most.

I cannot. But, God can.

The apostle John reminds us in the above passage that Jesus leaves us on earth with a heavenly gift. The gift is peace of mind and heart. It is available for all those that reach for it. While it is offered to everyone, it is not forced on anyone. We each have the choice to say “Yes”. When we do, Jesus fills our hearts and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our minds. The combination creates a new level of worthiness.

I wish that I had figured that out during my own athletic tenure.

I feel incredibly blessed that I figured it out during my coaching tenure.

God’s time isn’t always our time, and learning to trade fear for faith is a life skill. When we make this intentional choice, the results on the athletic field are tangible. But, more importantly, the impact on the confidence with which we live our lives is nothing short of amazing grace 🙂

 

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Finding Honor As a Coach…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Luke 12: 34

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”


This year, I divided the 8 week swim team season into 3 phases of training. We began the 3rd phase last week and it is entitled “Competing with Honor”. We spent the week as a team brainstorming ways to do this

As a young coach straight out of college, I lacked maturity and perspective. It took me a few years of motherhood to learn that good coaches love their athletes more than they love athletic victory. That doesn’t mean that victory is not important — it simply means that the coach’s focus is on developing the child/young adult not simply pushing hard to win the game.

I’m a constant “work in progress” and have found that my coaching abilities continue to improve as my faith deepens. On Saturday, God taught me a new lesson in how to coach with honor. One of my young athletes was disqualified in her butterfly race. There are a lot of things that you learn to take in stride as a coach, but this particular one hurt my heart. It was a big deal for a couple of reasons.

  • This young athlete works hard everyday at practice. She cares about her performance and prides herself on doing things correctly.
  • I encourage my swimmers to fill out goal sheets at the beginning of each season. I think that a goal without a plan is just a wish and like to teach my kids to care enough about their life journey to honor it with a plan. Here are the three season goals that she selected in May:

My mind wanted to contest the DQ, but my heart knew that the life lesson that it had the ability to teach was more important. It wasn’t my job to question the judgement of the official — it was my job to guide the swimmer through the experience packing her faith to compete with grace and honor.


How many times do we (as coaches and parents) get so hung up on the athletic event/game that we forget the importance of the development of the child? I hope that my swimmers want to be a part of the Cozad Swim Team because they love the sport of swimming and want to share in the awesomeness of a supportive team. If this is my desire as a coach, then it is my duty to teach my swimmers to persevere and remain hopeful in times of challenge. Being an athlete is a journey — not a single moment in time.

After the meet ended, I took a walk with my young swimmer. I held her hand as we talked about a lot of things: resilience, forgiveness, learning from mistakes, and looking forward to future races with hope in our hearts. At the end of our talk, I gave her a hug and reminded her how awesome both God and I knew that she was. We made a plan for the future that started with a smile, and involved some more work at practice to prepare for the butterfly leg of the relay that she would swim at Championships. A couple of days later, after she had some time to heal, we sat down and made a new goal for the end of the season to take the place of the one that could no longer be attained this year.

During this experience, I kept coming back to the above bible verse. Asking myself: What is my treasure? And, How does that drive the desires of my heart? If my treasure is embracing Jesus’s mission, then my love for the athlete must inspire my actions. Twenty years from now, it is unlikely that my swimmer will remember the other 5 races that she swam on Saturday. However, it is likely that tucked somewhere in her heart will be the memory of our walk together after the meet was over. Perhaps she will draw on her first hand experience of how to compete with honor by relying on faith and grace to find resilience in times of challenge.

 

 

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