Teaching Young Women to Overcome Challenges
Empowering young girls was top of mind when Benita decided to coach volleyball. Teaching young girls to work together, accept new challenges, and use their voices, were skills that Coach Benita knew middle school girls needed in life.
On day one Benita promised her team that she would be committed to helping them get better every week, all she asked in return was that they treat each other with respect, behave, and commit themselves to getting better.
With their rules in place, Benita and her team began to practice. Most of the girls on her team had never played volleyball before, but they were eager to learn. Every week, she saw them abiding by their team rules…they were working hard on and off the court, they were respectful and they put forth solid effort.
Soon enough, the team faced their first challenge – a game against Highlandtown Middle School, the best team in their league. Benita’s team fell behind quickly, and she wondered how her team would react. They fell even further behind, and lost just thirty minutes. She could see some of her players visibly getting upset. Since they had lost quickly, and the gym time had already been scheduled, the opposing coach asked if they wanted to scrimmage for fun. Benita discussed it with her team, who were still wounded by their quick loss. They agreed unanimously to shake off the loss and view the scrimmage as an opportunity to gain more practice.
That scrimmage sparked a new ambition in her players. At the next practice a handful of girls asked Benita if they could stay late and keep practicing. Benita stayed with them, giving them personal coaching to develop their individual skills. The next week, more girls asked to stay late, and before long her entire team was staying for an extra thirty minutes because they wanted to keep getting better. “All you have to do is care a little bit, and it makes a huge difference,” Benita said.
By the end of the season they were a far cry from the team that lost so quickly to Highlandtown Middle School. And when they met Highlandtown again, the girls played on a much more competitive level. Although they lost, Benita couldn’t have been prouder of her girls, because she had set out to focus on the learning, not the winning.
The best part for Benita, is that they were proud of themselves.