BY DEXTER IRVIN
UH-Hilo Athletic Director
Wow, can growing up be painful. In my imperfect opinion this applies to children, families, parents, teams, athletic departments and institutions of higher learning.
For many of us, once our children are grown, it does not mean we stop worrying about them, it just changes our perspective. However humbling, the growing up process can be extremely painful, most of the time very eventful, and almost always riddled with mistakes, tough lessons and wonderful successes.
Our current volleyball team is a beautiful case study. For many it would easy to give up on a team that was struggling to win. The same way some would give up on a teenager that was struggling to find their identity. Not everyone recognizes the value and potential of each individual on a team or in a family but I believe we have coaches at the University of Hawaii at Hilo that recognize and identify strengths, talent and character, and then begin to nurture those attributes. They are growing up and they are finding success; first in sections and now finally in the whole.
Some would give up on potential, and many have, but not here. I am so impressed with the nature and nurture of our staff. I am also impressed with the loyal fans that have shown up to watch the growth of these fantastic young people and their resilient coaches. Struggles and losses can build character and success if the leadership and pathways are well defined, and the plan for success is clear.
For many of us the choices are not as complicated as some would make them out to be, and hence the solutions are rarely out of our reach. The solutions to success are not painless, as exhibited by some of our teams. But because the path in athletics can be so clearly defined, and we have quality individuals, if we stay the course and pay our dues, success is inevitable.
Of course, not everyone’s path is so clearly marked. Watching people make choices that you consider to be mistakes can be painful and the ripple effect of consequences for everyone in the family, or team, provides for some unwanted drama. But with the proper teaching the drama does not have to be destructive.
In our personal and professional infancy, as well as our adolescence, it is important that we use our educational experiences to make mistakes, take some calculated risk, and learn from our errors. The protective pragmatic and emotional cocoon offered by a good athletic experience makes life’s transition much more productive, enticing, and successful. How to lose with grace, how to win with humility, and the ability to make concrete decisions are part of the maturing process.
Coaches, like players and parents are often in various stages of “growing up.” As I have gotten older I recognize how very little I really know, and how ignorant I was as a young coach and parent. Fortunately, I have forgiving children that are showing no permanent damage as a result of their upbringing. (Ok, maybe one child)
As we sometimes struggle with life it is important that we look to be part of a solution, not the problem, to push ourselves beyond what we think we are capable, enthusiastically and radically support our teams, schools and children, and treat each other with aloha and respect.