Student gets strength from high schoolers

By Kathy Novak |

I attend college classes all day, but afterwards I go back to high school.

This is because I coach an incredible young women’s lacrosse team at Pedro Menendez. I feel thankful to be involved with the youth of today and to be in touch with molding the future. It will be three years ago this January that I was asked to help be an assistance coach of the team.

I had just moved from Maryland, often called “The Land of Lacrosse,” to a state where half the people here didn’t even know how to spell it.

To be honest, I was pretty nervous. That was until I fell into the hands of the North Florida Lacrosse program, and today, I couldn’t be happier.

Throughout the past few seasons, I have grown to understand the importance of my involvement within their lives, along with theirs in mine. At their age, they are so impressionable, despite how strong they may act. High school is a vulnerable time for girls, and I remember being so grateful that my parents had put me into sports. It became a great outlet for me.

Now, I have the opportunity to be there when my girls are in doubt of their inner strength or when they just need a little nudge in the right direction. However, what they may not realize is that they do the same for me.

On the days that I don’t think I can keep going, they unknowingly push me along. Even though they are as much as eight years younger than me, we create a support system for one another.

Participating in sports at a young age provides qualities such as honesty, discipline, integrity, responsibility and respect for others. Therefore, I feel grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the sports and personal lives and building these characteristics within these girls.

So many kids don’t have the encouragement from inside the home to reach out to what is around them, so when I get the chance to work with them in sports, I always make sure that they know they can always come to me for anything.

It has been my experience that when they don’t have the support from home, most of them don’t try out on the field. I am comforted by the fact that they know they can come out on the field and get drive and encouragement from me.

Also, you would think that because they’re in high school, and I am about to graduate from college that we wouldn’t really relate on anything. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

They are some of my closest friends. Whatever concern we may have, we’re there for each other and can relate in some way. Whether it’s all together through one of our “team texts” or individually through a phone call or a quick visit.

I have realized that I am not only coach of a team, but I am part of it as well. We get through a lot together and when one falls behind, the rest stay back to pull her forward.

Coaching these girls has been a very fulfilling experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Seeing the youth of today gravitate towards such a positive outlet keeps me going, and their upbeat attitudes and commitment are what hold the team and myself together.

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