Zoe Waller - Grade 9, Oakwood High School
Learning How to Coach
A couple years ago I was at my brothers Junior Jacks basketball game in the Smith Elementary gym, bored to tears. The squeaking of shoes and pounding of the ball overwhelmed the quiet whispers of “Go jacks Go!” I gazed over to my right to see a group of ten little girls in tiny cheerleading uniforms. I moved down a couple rows of bleachers to get a closer look, and started talking to their coach. We introduced ourselves and I told her how I was cheering at the Junior High and that I would love to help her if she needed it. I wrote down my number and we continued watching the game. A couple of weeks later I got a text from the coach asking me if I would like to come every couple weeks to their practices, I graciously accepted and couldn’t wait to get started. When I got to the first practice, all their smiling faces welcomed me with open arms as I walked through the door to the Harman Cafeteria. I taught them cheers, helped them improve their jumps, and choreographed their dance. Then I took the 6th graders aside and counseled them about try-outs for the next year. I was in their shoes when I was in 6th grade. Being terrified that I wasn’t going to make the squad or that I wasn’t as good as my peers. I was able to ease their nerves which was such a gratifying experience. I had babysat and helped out with kids before, but this was really the first time I got to coach such malleable minds.
All these young girls looked up to me like no one had before. It was like I was their own personal Yahoo Answers. They constantly asked me for advice, and most of the time not even about cheerleading. They asked about school dances, how they should wear their hair for picture day, and if they should name their new puppy Wilfred or Winnie. I only have brothers, and I felt like I at last had sisters that I could advise. I can remember when I was in ballet class around 6 years old, we had a student teacher that I adored. She was everything that I wanted to be, and it felt amazing to be that person for someone else. I learned a lot at those practices. I found out what works when teaching young girls and what doesn’t. I also discovered that helping others doesn’t have to be hard work. It can be exciting, and fun, and easy. Find a way to help others by doing something you enjoy. If you love cooking, make food for the homeless in your area. If you’re an artist, create something that the whole town can enjoy. If you don’t make it a chore, it can be one of the greatest and most gratifying experiences of your life.