“You’re up,” he yells.
“Could you show me again?” He shook his head. I stepped into the drill and tried and do the best I could. From the look on his face, I could tell I did it wrong. He told me to run a lap until I learn to do the drill right. As an 11 year old that is new to the idea of discipline and hard work, I was terrified for the remaining hour. An hour passed by, and soccer training was finally over. I dragged myself off the field, positive that for my first session there’s no way I would want to ever go back. I thought that this soccer training would help me get better, not destroy my confidence. Although training was difficult, I told myself I wouldn’t give up. It’ll get better. For days I told myself this, then weeks, then months.
In the spring, summer, and fall, we practice at Goddard Park.
Just two weeks ago I walked into Manic Training, not knowing what to expect. At first, everything was fine, but then personal comments started to intensify. It felt exactly like the first day. We were learning a new drill that the rest of the high schoolers understood, but it still wasn’t clear to me. It was one person at a time, so I tried to get a glimpse of what we were doing while we had to juggle the ball when waiting our turn.
This is Manic Training in East Greenwich. When its too cold to practice outside, we practice here. I come here Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
“Helena, focus on the drill you’re doing” he demanded. I went back to juggling. He called me into the drill, and my best wasn’t good enough for him. “Do you even know what we’re doing?” he questioned. I tried to explain that I didn’t understand and tried to watch the drill when juggling, but he didn’t care. “If you’re not going to do it right, then just get out.” I stepped out of the drill, on the verge of exploding with anger. The rest of the practice, I tried to put my anger aside.
The following week on a Sunday, I traveled to East Greenwich High for the winter training, the first hour soccer skills and the second speed and agility. Similar to last time, I was constantly getting put down by him. I was on my last straw. I thought I could resist expressing my feelings until I slipped on the ball and fell on my head. My fists clenched so hard my fingernails could cut my skin. So many thoughts were racing through my brain it could erupt. I broke inside. I was in tears and ran out of the gym with all eyes on me.
The trainer is on the left, and I'm to the the left of him.
I waited in the foyer of the high school until I was calm and collected. I came back in and continued with our drill, until I heard, “Helena, you call that a pass?”. I stopped, and then realized I couldn’t go on anymore. I walked to my soccer bag and texted my dad to pick me up. I looked up and notice he is coming my way. He tried to tell me that I can’t give up, and I needed to put my feelings aside on the soccer field. Although I agree with his point of view, I continued to ignore him. “I’ll see you on Wednesday?” he asked. I shot him a look. “I’m sorry if you thought I was being harsh, but I believe that you have the potential to be a great soccer player.” he explains. I saw my dad’s car pull up to the entrance and I stormed out.
That night, I thought to myself, “he’s right. I can’t improve unless I’m willing to accept his discipline. How will I know what I’m doing wrong?” I looked from his perspective. It’s his job to show discipline, and he simply wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t push me. Although he never asked for forgiveness, he apologized and showed he cared about me. Despite his apology, I struggled to forgive him because I wasn’t sure if the mistreatment would continue. I understood that unless I forgave him and didn’t hold a grudge against him, I couldn’t give my best effort and progress as an athlete.
When I went to practice on Wednesday, he gestures for me to enter his office. We talked about how we may not see eye to eye on everything, but we both should consider the other person’s perspective. He was right that it’s his job to be strict, and it’s the only way I will learn. On the other hand, I was right to think he needs to give more constructive criticism. In the end, we both learned to make compromises. Since that conversation, I understand that he means well and is focused on my success. I learned that when dealing with professional trainers, I need to not only put in my best effort, but also put complete trust in them. If I was unable to forgive him, I couldn’t possibly move on and continue with the sport I love.