“Mom, I was picked for the team!” My daughter, Hurricane Alexis, jumped in the truck with the biggest smile on her face. She had the look of I did it all by myself of years gone by. Alexis is my youngest and has a drama streak. Putting her in basketball was a decision to help with leadership and character development. Her skills in the game were not my first priority, but if she was going to be on the team, she had to learn the game. She comes from a household of great athletes and I was not letting my expectations down with her.
This summer she stepped up her training after a few stern conversations from me and attended several basketball camps. The school hired a new coach to take over the team after Coach Ronnie decided she needed to spend more time with her family. In a tutorial, parents are involved in many aspects of educating their kids including coaching the team. Last year, the Lady Royals went to the state championships and won. But it was hard fought and there were a few problems with unity on the team. Coach Ronnie said girls can be that way.
The new coach is not a parent of the school and he has no ties to the area. He is quiet and does not talk much to the parents. He is an introvert and is analytical. He spent all summer teaching plays and drills. The team had strength and power, but they needed to think strategically. He told each young lady that they would have to earn their spot on the team. This was different. In the last two years, the girls would go out for the team and everyone made it. It was not viewed as competition to see who had the best skills or potential. Their qualifications for being on the team were they had to be a girl, attend practice and be in good standing with the school.
But after winning the championships, the Lady Royals were seen in a new light and the stakes were raised. The girls became more competitive with each other and there was a spirit of being the best in the air. The new coach was the right choice. They wanted to be the best and they wanted only the best on their team. This was a different team. This was the Lady Royals.
Something else happened. Alexis started to take the game more seriously. She went to the basketball court on her own, twice a day, and would practice dribbling the ball more and more. In August, she practiced daily. A week ago, one of my neighbors knocked at the door and said he wanted to help her with her drills. I eyed him like a pervert from jail but she explained that she asked him to help her. She initiated the call and asked Mr. Mike, a retired airline pilot and exercise enthusiast, to help her win her spot on the team. I was surprise. She was taking her game to the next level.
That week of practice with Mr. Mike, along with her skills and determination, helped her win her spot on the team. She earned it. And she knows it. I was proud of her. I was proud that she wanted to be on the team and she wanted to be viewed as one of the best on her team. Not just a player on the girls’ team. On the way home yesterday, she talked about her opponents that she will play against this season and for the first time I heard her mention visiting UT. She was talking about college and sports.
Living here in Tennessee, the Lady Vols basketball program is one of the state’s treasures. The crown jewel of women’s sports. Recognized nationally and internationally for their dominance in the game of basketball. My Alexis is a junior this year and something special is happening with her. I sent Pat Summit, the Lady Vols head coach, an email and told her that I have a diamond that is being buffed and polished. Pat responded and said she will be in town soon for a conference.
As I started to journal last night, my mind drifted to the current political season. I love seeing women be the best they can be. I want women to shatter as many glass ceilings as often as we can. Being a woman in the pest control industry, I know that the ceiling can be shattered. But let us be the best at what we do and be strategic in the process. Not just a woman on the team. I am not another pest control operator. I am a leader in my industry and beyond. Known nationally and internationally for my work in the industry. I am proud to be a woman; God made me that way.
My daughter is being polished for the next generation of leadership in this country. No matter what she does, she will be a leader. She comes from a long line of leaders. I will not let my expectations be any less than what I demanded from her older brothers. Hopefully, it will not be because she will be a woman but because she will one of the best at whatever she does. After all, she is a diamond and she will be polished and buffed.