Team Sports: A Letter to College Athletes on Cultivating Relationships

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By Geraline L. Handsome –

You are in your college years and this is the time of your life where you are trying to discover who you really are.  Part of discovering your identity is finding out what personal attributes you need to develop that will make you the best you in college and beyond, and getting rid of those that would hinder you.

Image your final game in college.  The horn sounds ending the last second of the last quarter of your college career.  Now, your teammates and coaches no longer have to, or want to, talk to you.  Feel the emotional and physical disconnect from you.  That was my reality when my college athletic career ended.  There was no longer a connection to my teammates or coaches.

Why did this happen?

I had failed to develop or cultivate a relationship with them.

One of the reasons was because the attitude of honoring and respecting people, including my coaches, was not a part of my identity.

When I entered college on a basketball scholarship, I left an environment where undesirable situations had occurred in my life and people who were in authority over me had let me down.

Unbeknownst to me, I had developed an attitude of mistrust and disrespect toward them.  It was to the point where I believed some of them did not know what they were doing.  I was inwardly rebellious, only accepting to do what was required of me if I agreed with it, or based on consequences.

It was a way of thinking I had developed to survive.  Unfortunately, that part of me was not going to help me succeed.  I had to get rid of that part of my identity.

However, I had no idea what it meant to honor and respect people in authority.

I had to learn that it meant more than saying ‘yes ma’am, no ma’am’ or ‘yes sir, no sir’ to them.  It is an attitude.

I had to learn that it meant to understand what they require and do it without resistance.

I had to realize that they have the power delegated to them to govern or manage the things affecting my life whether or not I liked them or agreed with them.

For instance, my coaches were the experts on basketball, and therefore, had major influence on my ability to play the sport.  They had the knowledge and expertise to make me a better athlete or the power to end my career.

I encourage you to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships with people in authority by honoring and respecting them.  As student athletes, begin exercising principles associated with this attitude, with your coaches.  Begin by honoring them by giving what they require of you.  Respect them by recognizing they have knowledge that will guide your athletic career.

Believe it or not you will have people like your coaches, in authority over you, for many years to come.  Begin making this attitude a part of your identity so you will succeed and gain good relationships.

Article originally posted on Huffington Post.

Geraline HandsomeAbout the Author:  Geraline L. Handsome has developed a passion to help college athletes of team sports discover their identity.  She is a former Women’s Basketball Player for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).  There she earned a B.S. degree in chemistry/mathematics.  She has a MBA from the University of Phoenix.  She is an Environmental Scientist and the mother of two.  She is also the author of the book Sins of One Woman’s Mind.

Geraline L. Handsome is currently developing Creating the Super Athlete, a product designed to help coaches help their athletes discover their identity so that they will be able to perform better in their sport, in the classroom, and in public.  It is expected to be completed in 2017.

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