If you are an athlete or have ever been a part of a team you know that the home field advantage is not just a saying, it’s a reality. There is a reason players and teams tend to perform better on a playing field with which they are familiar. Sometimes the advantage is psychological and visceral because the crowd comes alive when their team does something well, triggering a strength-in-numbers mentality that produces a deep sense of confidence. Sometimes it’s a physical advantage. Through all the practices, the wind sprints, gassers, drills, and sets, the players know every floorboard and blade of grass because they have covered it not just with their feet, but with their sweat, blood and, sometimes, tears.
For Session #2 in the Handshake America line-up of events the student-athletes get the home field advantage. To the students, the Orientation Session at Wendy's Headquarters probably felt a little like an away game. This time the coaches get to don the visitor’s jerseys and re-enter the world of high school. These one-on-one sessions at the students' schools allow the coaches to experience, or at least get a taste of, the daily lives of their students. They get to meet their friends, their teachers and administrators, and get a real sense of who they are in their environment and attempt to understand who and what influences them every day. Many of the two-person teams have already met and the feedback is fantastic!
During this second session the coaches are encouraged to have meaningful and informative conversations that flow both ways. The goal is to get to know their student as a person, get a feel for where they are, what their passions are, and where they want to go into the next year and beyond. Ideally, a coach can relate to their younger counterpart by sharing insight from the paths they have traveled so that the student can get a glimpse into their future – to really get them to think about where, and specifically who they want to be.
That last bit is the core of this entire experience that is unfolding. It doesn’t matter whether you end up signing a multi-million dollar contract in your sport or work a desk job shuffling papers for a living. What matters is who you are. This is the one thing in life in which you have a choice. You can’t control much of anything else, but you can control how you are going to be you.
Perseverance, Passion, Positivity? Those are up to you. The value you put on People? Up to you. Developing all those traits? You are not alone in this one, but it is up to you to heed the experience of others and turn the stuff you learn and know into wisdom you can use. Your Presence, then, is how you apply that wisdom in real life situations.
How many times have you heard the phrase “trust the process”? Go ahead and add one to that number. Trust the process. These One-on-Ones are the first big step. Take these opportunities to open up to your coaches, and coaches to your students. Challenge each other and your teammates. Listen to each other. You will all be better for it!
Good luck, Coaches! High school can be a tough place for anybody. Good luck, Students! This is a great opportunity to perform on your home court.