I wanted to take this opportunity to first thank Provincial Women’s Softball Association (PWSA) Canada Summer Games Committee, the PWSA Executive, the PWSA membership and the Canada Games athletes and staff for the opportunity to represent Team Ontario, Softball Ontario and the PWSA at the 2017 Canada Games. It was my second time attending, having attended in 2013, and I can say without a doubt, it never gets dull or routine representing your province – the honour and pride to wear Team Ontario across your chest is beyond words, the feeling of walking into an opening or closing ceremony (I have been fortunate enough to now have experienced both) is humbling, emotional (read tears of joy), and most importantly an honour.
While in 2017, we fell short of achieving our goal of winning and bringing back home gold for Ontario, we improved upon our 2013 fourth place finish. Both results immediately following the Games were personally disappointing in that we did not meet our goal, however, I know that the athletes and staff did the very best we could … the chips didn’t fall in our favour and sometimes you have to just “tip your hat” to your opponent.
As I reflect on both my experiences, I want to thank the PWSA, the athletes and coaches of both the 2013 and 2017 for lessons and memories far greater than wins and losses. As coaches, we can get a narrowed focus on what success means and that typically aligns with wins and losses, however, our greatest measure of success is our athletes. When we all start out coaching our aim is to provide opportunity, not just opportunity to grow as ballplayers but more importantly as people.
Your PWSA president 30+ years ago put up her hand to coach a t-ball team in a small Toronto Borough with her husband, so my sister and I could play, learn the value of teamwork, being a good time, and be active (read burn off energy and learn how to get along with one another!)
I remember asking my boss who hired me for my first “real” job after graduate school, why he had hired me (during my first week he asked if I would play on the company slo-pitch Team) and he candidly said, we can teach you the specific skill set of the job, your education has taught you to learn and the fundamentals of engineering and Softball has taught you how to be a great teammate, how to communicate with others, how to work collaboratively, how to push through challenge and how to manage your time, how to set goals, etc. I am reminded of Bruno’s words to me 15 years later as I reflect on my coaching career … I remember teams, games, plays, athletes, the “ah ha” moments and now most fondly, when I get an email from former athletes telling about what they have been up to, sharing their life with me, telling me the impact the team, the sport and myself have had on them, they don’t recount the wins or the losses but the life-skills and life-lessons they learned in the safe and controlled environment that we create as coaches.
I will share one last thing to close off my thanks. While we as coaches ask and push our athletes to excel in pursuit of success, I am reminded that we as coaches similarly need to push ourselves to develop, excel, and grow and for me, my athletes, and fellow coaches inspire me to do that, to challenge myself, so that I can challenge them. To close, as I have done in my reflection on my Canada Games experience and having a difficult time reconciling the result of our fourth-place finish in 2013 and bronze medal in 2017, I challenge everyone here to remember why you got involved in the game as a volunteer administrator and or coach… and remember…
“A coach will impact more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime – Bill Graham” …
What do you want your legacy to be?
By Johanna Malisani