Post 3 of the Women-I-Admire-and-Why theme from this week. Today is about a woman who is famous to me and my family…my mom, Debbie Reichardt. In today’s post we tell a story about opposition and resilience.
I mention working with my dad, co-author of The Best Seller, in a previous post. My mom and I worked together in a different way – on the athletic field. She taught me a number of life lessons as my soccer coach from age 6 to age 18.
When I reflect on those twelve years, I think about how my mom courageously put herself in position to mentor dozens of girls during a time when most soccer coaches were men. My mom had played various sports on the boys’ teams while growing up and she was tough. To coach a girls soccer team through the teenage years and survive, I think toughness is an essential trait.
Because she had not competitively played the sport she was coaching, she did her homework. Our home was filled with resources…How-To guides on coaching, practice drills, motivational stories, and VHS tapes of all things soccer-related. When we reached those infamous teenage years, some of us decided that our skills were ‘beyond her’ coaching ability.
As the daughter of the coach, I was stuck between the loyalty for the woman who I watched working long hours behind the scenes preparing each challenging practice with skill and the peer pressure of my teammates and their parents who told me that our team needed a professional coach.
Mom had coached us to win several State Championships and many of my teammates had their eyes on bigger tournaments and college recruiters; they didn’t want a volunteer coach anymore.
A word to describe the situation: Awkward.
At this juncture, most volunteer coaches would get fed up with the ungrateful attitudes and quit. Mom did the opposite, she dug deeper into her resourcefulness.
She borrowed a friends’ maroon Chevy G20 conversion van. She drove that van to our soccer practice field and had us pile in as she plugged in one of her VHS tapes of soccer skills and drills. During the time of no internet, to have our own, real-time, professional virtual coaches, was, to say the least, ingenious.
Despite her forward-thinking ideas, the topic of replacing her with a professional coach re-surfaced every few years.
Opposition is to be expected, no matter what your role is – even when you’re great at what you do, other people will think otherwise. How we handle the opposition will determine the outcome.
Do we care enough to continue and if so, why?
In this recurring situation, Mom cared enough to continue because she thought it was counterintuitive not to persist. Her program was and continued to be the winningest program beyond all of the boys’ teams even with those headed by professional coaches.
Didn’t the need for a male coach indicate a woman was not good enough? She doubled down on providing even more to our team through weight training, conditioning, cross-sport training, motivational moments, and camps.
Mom coached us through a total of 7 winning State Championships, various travel tournament trophies, and about half of us were recruited for college soccer. Her goal in coaching was to teach us to rise to the occasion, to challenge ourselves, to become resilient women. Resilience isn’t learned by backing down from opposition, it’s learned by practicing how to navigate through it over and over again.