Yesterday was special….we had our last Christmas celebrations. The first one was with the “Posse” – a group of 4 (“Four”) former players I have known forever. They have kept in touch with one another and me across the years. The husband was pleasantly entertained by their “very different personalities.” I wish so much that their lives will work out such that you can spend time with them too. I believe their unique traits have a lot to offer you and the fact that there are four of them can’t be a coincidence alone.
Let’s start with the brother-sister pair. T is the youngest of three siblings. Her older sister was not a tennis kid. Her brother, the middle child, picked up tennis a year behind her. T was a tennis prodigy very early on. She was not even aware of how good she was. She would go to tournaments for 10U and do great without even being aware of competition (that didn’t last). She just kicked butt and had a blast hitting. Her carefree enjoyment is one thing I will always remember about her youth. She loved simply hitting. She was the tom-boy of the family. Later, she was fun as I witnessed her go through her many crushes. She also began to immerse herself in the entertainment industry. When she was going to college in the city she got a PA job for a show that shoots on location there. It cracked me up to hear of her celebrity sightings. She is the ultimate go-getter. I am certain she gets nervous about things with her life, but it never seems to show. She is a strong young woman who lives very adventurously and finds humor in many things. Her laugh is loud and silly. She has always reminded me on Aunt J, even in how they looked at certain points. Moreover, she is one of the main reasons the group came together in the first place. I think that a solo sport like tennis has issues with retaining youth athletes as the social aspect is so vital to keeping kids invested in training. The most rewarding times I have had coaching have included working with groups of kids who were in it together. They motivate one another, share inside jokes, and sometimes when the idea of training is just not exciting enough, knowing that you get to spend time with friends is a powerful glue. She was always the glue. I would hope that T’s fun, loyal, spunky, and hard-working traits are qualities you can have too.
Her brother, P, is also someone so special. While they are siblings, I really do think of them as the unique individuals that they are. My heart has always gone out to P. He had a tough time in high school. He struggled with some of his tougher classes, but it never knocked him down. When the subject was hard, he dug in and pushed himself to get through. He struggled with social stuff then too. I think he knew that he didn’t need to bend to anyone’s opinion of him. Early on he was passionate about architecture and design. He used to stage the house and it was always gorgeous. He used graph paper to sketch out elaborate mansions. Not many kids have these detailed interests at a young age and actually follow through on them as he has. He worked hard through school, shelving a lot of the social garbage that could have derailed him, and got into a great college program where he worked even harder and networked like a pro. He got his foot in many doors and was able to land a job at one of the most prestigious firms in LA. Being brave and independent, he moved to LA where he impressed the higher-ups at the firm and continues to be a part of projects he once dreamed about doing. He has also traveled extensively, sketching amazing scenes from beautiful destinations. When I think of P I immediately think art. He is an artist through and through. I think his independent spirit, which provided him this quiet, inner strength to power through tough times, is part of what makes him a good artist. Art is about expression. He sees the world with his keen eye for details and the things he regards as beauty resonate for him in a way that reflects his soul. His passion for travel and learning is also about art too. He just wants to witness more of this beauty that fuels his passion for expression. While he has made this amazing life in LA, he once again wants to start a new chapter in his life by going back to school on the east coast. We shall see where he ends up, at least for a while. I hope that P’s quiet strength, appreciative eye for beauty, and adventurous spirit are some traits you may develop too.
Then there is M. She is quite honestly one of the funniest people I have known – well with the exception of my male maid of honor/best friend C who is a total crack up. M was the ultimate jock. She was great at tennis and amazing at softball. She is tall, nimble, strong, and fierce. Lately the term “slaying it” has become popular. I wish that was around when I was coaching her in her youth because that describes her perfectly. She was a goofy kid when I first started working with her, but then this competitive fire took spark and man, was she ever the athlete. Like T, I don’t think she always knew how good she was. She just found the fun in tennis. I think tennis was her “blow off some steam” sport. Softball was her main sport and the one that had a lot of her future tied up in it. Because the intensity of softball overshadowed tennis, tennis was fun and always remained so. So much of what her school years were revolved around competitive sports that I almost think she was just busting at the seams to come into her own social realm – and has she! M has grown a huge pool of friends that she can have all kinds of fun with. When I was a young girl scout we learned a song that went, “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” I think she is like that. Even though she has this big, exciting social life that takes her to fun events all over the place, she still makes time for this old posse of her youth. Another thing about her was that she followed through on her desire to become a nurse. Being a nurse takes a lot of intense schooling and keeping at a grinding schedule. She works the late shift 11 p.m. – 7 a.m. She is just the best about it though. Her goal is to go back to school and continue to advance her career in medicine. M is a great example about balance. She has been an awesome athlete, successful student, active socialite, and constant striver. There is something to be said for someone who can live so fully while maintaining balance. I was never good at that, so I deeply respect it in her. She is also someone who finds fun in everything. She cracks me up with her brutal honest quips – which are hilarious. As of now, she is still local-ish. By the end of summer, she may move for her graduate studies. I really hope you get to be around her when she has the time. She is so much fun and would make you smile a lot I am sure.
Then there is M. I have written about him before, but not in the context of the posse. He attended a different high school but always stayed close with the group. M has been like a nephew or young, younger brother to me. He is the oldest of just brothers, no sisters, but where he lacked that by blood he has made up for it with T and M, who have become his sisters watching him grow up with them. M is the ultimate force of self-sacrifice and generosity. When I hear how people pick on “millennials” everything about M counters that. He is such a big giver. He has helped me move so many times. He never once made me feel like a mooch for asking for his help. Like P, I think of M as a quiet warrior of sorts. He has this calm, inner strength that surrounds him like the aura of a wise Buddhist monk. He is calm, patient, and beyond kind. He is all about doing things to better the world, and in particular I think he is perfectly geared toward working with kids. This past year he taught at a bilingual school in the Honduras. These 2nd graders were so lucky to have him shaping their educational experience. Not only is he super intelligent, but he is so nice that a student could never feel the least bit intimidated by him – despite him towering over them as he is super tall. He has this heart of gold that seriously spreads warmth and comfort without him having to do anything at all. It is all in how he carries himself. He is so genuinely philanthropic to the core and what a special treasure that is to have in a world so consumed by materialism and selfie-worship these days. It may sound like I am over-hyping this trait, but I am not. Even my parents, who have met him across the years can’t believe what an amazing young man he is. He has a loving and close family to help shape the warmth of his great heart. He has grown bolder and more dedicated in wanting to walk a career path that may not offer much in the way of job security or income, but he is doing work that makes a difference for people who truly need a champion. And that is who he is – a champion. While he remains a great tennis athlete, he is champion in the sense of a knight. He takes up others’ causes and fights their fights with honor, dignity, and grace. I don’t necessarily think of him as the age he really is. He comes across as an “old soul” – his peer social realm doesn’t really drive him the way it does most young people his age. He has friends and has fun, but he also rises above that and seems to have a radar always searching for where he may go next. He isn’t pinned down to anything as he seems to somehow end up where he is needed most. I will go there – it is almost a divine sort of thing. I hope that he feels fulfilled with his life. Sometimes when someone gives and gives, it may get exhausting. I hope that in all of his charitable endeavors he recognizes the value of it and is filled with proof that it is worth it. When I think of him I am hopeful that his kind, calm, patient, hard-working, and giving nature will rub off on you. M is an amazing role model and someone who is local enough (for now) to hopefully see a lot of you.
As I told these four, it will be increasingly difficult to get together as the years draw on and life moves all of us into wildly different directions. The thing that these four young adults get is the value of keeping in touch. Out of all of my former players these four have done the best to keep in touch with one another and me. The time we spent hanging out yesterday was a lovely and special gift of time. I am so happy that your dad could witness these four together as I think he understands how special it is too. I wonder if the good feelings generated by that visit were felt by you. You were quiet for most of yesterday. I’ve felt you at night, but most of the daytime, I hardly noticed your movements at all. Maybe you were just content. I hope.
I am going to sign off for now. I need to clean a little and head to work for a bit. I will update about time with my family later. Hang in there kiddo, lots of doc appts tomorrow. Hopefully we will have great news that you are coming along A okay! Adios for now!