Coaching Volleyball Magazine October / November 2015 - Page 23

www.avca.org phone calls after the games. I would not have the chance to look forward to both of my parents coming up to my games. As with any kind of loss, your life inevitably changes. Grief never ends – it’s an ongoing process. “People don’t ‘get over’ or ‘recover from’ their grief; instead they learn to ‘reconcile’ themselves to it. They learn to accommodate the loss as part of who they are and proceed in their lives with meaning, purpose, and happiness.” – Dr. Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D. WHITMAN ATHLETICS values that I was taught as a kid stuck with me and reminded me to never give up. When I started coaching high school in Southern California, my relationship with my father evolved into a mentorship. The phone calls were focused around the psychological aspects of the game. He would ask me how I was going to prepare for matches, how to get the most out of my players, what my thought process was and how to make practices fun. There would be disagreements, brainstorming of creative drills and tales from his past experiences as a coach. You see, my dad was a born leader, the oldest of seven and had no choice but to take responsibility for his siblings. He was the commander of the Molokai Veterans Center. He helped veterans with their needs, whether it be medical or disability benefits. An entertainer and salesman, he knew how to connect with people. When I came to a crossroads in my career path, I decided to apply for a college coaching position that would take me away from my family and home, Molokai! One of the biggest supporters that encouraged me to take the position was my father. The phone calls would continue. With wins, phone calls were usually returned right away, and the losses, well, that took an hour or so. Every now and then, he and my mother would make a trip to Walla Walla and watch a few games. After one year of coaching at Whitman College I received a phone call like no other. My dad was diagnosed with liver cancer and they were giving him six months to live. As a survivor, he fought it and continued to do so until his death two and a half months later. As an athlete and coach, you deal with a range of adversities. The challenge is to shift your perspective and look at them as opportunities to learn and get better. How do you deal with the loss of one of your biggest supporters and find the motivation to continue on? In hindsight, I realized that I needed to take some time to grieve. Like any loss of a parent, it was hard. He died on June 19, 2013. My second season would start in two months, and at the time I felt as prepared as ever to take on my second season. Everything was in place, travel arrangements were made, gear was ordered and I was looking forward to another exciting season. What I didn’t plan for was the fact that I was not going to get the usual People mourn in many different ways, and I believe as coaches and players it is important to talk it out, write it out, cry it out, think it out, play it out, paint it out, dance and sing it out. Mourning is an action of remembering and honoring. You see it all the time with athletes and teams that lose a member of their ranks – you can honor them by wearing their number or a symbol. Recognition \