by Ryan Krzykowski
For the past couple months, CFC teammate Alec Lemmon and I have been working on a new set of lessons to use in Coaching Life Groups. The plan is to have 14 of the lessons that will make their debut in groups this fall. At this point it remains to be seen what the fall is going to look like for school, sports, groups, etc. But no matter what the specifics end up being, we’ll be ready.
To that end, this seems like a good time to provide a sneak peek at one of the lessons. Alec wrote this one, and I think he nailed it. Take a look, see what you think, and maybe even take a crack at the exercise/activity suggested at the end. Don’t be shy if you have any feedback. Send a note to email@example.com.
Letter to My Coach
by Alec Lemmon
When was the last time you wrote a handwritten letter to someone?
There is something different about reading a handwritten letter that is different than a text or email. I deleted about 8,000 old emails the other day and didn’t worry too much about it. On the other hand, I have a box under my bed full of handwritten notes and letters, that I doubt I’ll ever throw away.
There is one note I got in high school that was folded into an origami square, which is the way we passed notes back then before texting and social media were the only form of communication for high schoolers. The origami square was the way we could pass notes without fear of someone opening it first. The note was written on a piece of notebook paper with a pen and carefully folded with care. There is something about someone taking the time to write something by hand, you know they didn’t just copy and paste a response, they didn’t have someone else write it. They had to take time to sit down for a set amount of time and exclusively think and write to you.
My sophomore year of high school my team was 15-1 and had set a state record for most shutouts in a row and my brother was a senior that had broken the all-time record for points (goals and assists) in a career. Our team had the best defense in the state and one of the best all-time goal scorers in Kansas High School soccer history. We were the team to beat and everything pointed toward our school’s first state championship. We had amazing support from the community too. I remember one game during the season versus a big rival — there were so many people at the game that people had started to double park on the street near the complex. It was so packed along street that the fire department stopped the game mid-way through the first half and demanded that fans re-park their cars off the street, because they had totally blocked the road and were preventing emergency vehicles from getting through. The students were intense, loud and proud from the sideline and there was more than a fair share of trash talking circulating before every major game of the season. All to say support and pressure was sky high that year.
Unfortunately, we lost early in the playoffs in a major upset to our biggest rival. I had played sports at a competitive level most of my life and that was one of the most depressing moments in my whole playing career.
Going to school the next day was incredibly difficult. You know everyone is watching you and no one wants to say anything. It’s really awkward and the sense of shame you have from letting the school down was something I could cut with a knife as I walked through the halls that day.
At lunch someone slipped me a folded origami square and inside were some of the most encouraging words I have ever needed to hear. Over the next few weeks I wrote a few letters back and forth with this person and it allowed me to forgive myself and also process what happened in an incredibly important way. I can’t fully explain why the words were so powerful, but I believe it has something to do with the fact that this person took the time to listen to me and allowed me to process the pain of that failure, while also reminding me of my value as a person that exceeded my value as an athlete.
We talked about the importance of history. However, we can’t remember everything in our history and not everything is helpful to remember. We need to take the time to distill what exactly from our past is important. Can we retain the important lessons and write a better future? Taking the time to reflect with pen or pencil can help us discover what is truly important.
Choose any or all of these options, and share your letters with the group:
- Write a letter to a coach you need to thank for all they did for you.
- Write a letter to a coach that you need to forgive.
- Write the letter you’d hope to receive from a player.