Jada Sanders: My Lesson Learned

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When Jada Sanders fell out of favor with her coach, instead of feeling defeated she used the tough moment as motivation to improve.

Softball is my sport, my passion, and has been for years. I’ve always had great supportive coaches who helped me get to where I am now. Recently, that changed.

Last year, I had a coach who was great at the beginning of the season. She played for her college team but she always made time for mine. She helped me a lot, even with things outside of softball. As time went on she gave less and less effort, and expected us to know everything about the game. She’d give us a drill and stand back and watch us fail.

When we did, she’d punish us with conditioning rather than telling us what we’re doing wrong. When it came to tournaments, it was the same. She got super disrespectful at times and had favorites. Clearly, I wasn’t one of them.

I often felt directly targeted. Once after a winning game, we stood in our huddle while she went around and mentioned a good play each person made. When she got to me, no compliments, no comments, nothing. She looked me directly in my eyes and skipped me.

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Afterwards I cried in one of my teammates moms’ arms. She mentioned how she noticed it and named a bunch of good things I did. This wasn’t the first time, but it was one of many times she made me feel like I wasn’t good enough, as a person or a player. It just got worse as the season went on.

Eventually other parents noticed and voiced concerns, but nothing changed. This really had a negative effect on me. I ended up quitting mid-season because of her harsh words.

Rather than giving up, her harsh words pushed me to improve; I would not allow her words to define me, I didn’t want her words to win. She made me want to be better, want to put in extra practice on weekends, want to prove her wrong. Even though I quit the team, I continued to put in the work.

Looking back, I feel no hatred towards that coach, and if anything I appreciate how poorly she treated me because of the lessons that came with it.

I just recently joined a team again and I already feel so much more welcome and involved then I did three months ago. All I want is to be my best, and I can definitely thank my ex-coach for this mindset.

With a Perspective, I’m Jada Sanders.

Jada Sanders is a student at Tennyson High School in Hayward. Her piece was produced with free curriculum from KQED’s Perspectives Youth Media Challenge.