It was April of 2005 and we were playing our rival – The University of Indianapolis Greyhounds. I played tennis for Northern Kentucky University from 2001 through 2005. When I started in 2001, I was never the best player, but I worked hard, kept my mouth shut, listened, learned, and worked my way to scholarship and playing 5th singles. I played a lot of matches in my time, but I always think back to that ONE match in April of 2005.
In this particular match against the Greyhounds, I was playing 5th singles against a tough opponent. The match was a back and forth battle, and I lost a close first set 7-6 in a tiebreaker. I lost many first sets in my time, but I lost this particular set in the worst way possible………my opponent hit a second serve off of a 1/2 inch wide crack in the court. The ball bounced 2 courts over and I never had a chance to put it in play. It was a tough way to lose a first set, but I had to keep my head in the match.
At this point, I could stay mad and give up or keep fighting for my team. Keep fighting for something bigger than myself. I stayed positive, dug in, and kept fighting. That first set reminds me of school on certain days. Some days are awesome with great lessons, students are engaged (just like the great back and forth first set), but all it takes is 10 seconds to create doubt (losing the set with a 2nd serve bouncing off a 1/2 inch wide crack).
Today at school, I had one of those days of doubt. Doubt that I can teach. Doubt that teaching is the right choice for me. Doubt that I can make it the rest of the school year. This doubt creeps in when I worry about things I can’t control, when things get a bit a noisy. It’s times like this, I call on past memories to remind me of something greater.
I often think about this tennis match from April of 2005 when things get tough. Tennis has given me so many great memories and has been very good to me throughout my life. It’s this particular match that lifts me up and reminds me to keep fighting. This is exactly what I did. I forgot about the 1/2 wide crack and I battled. I refused to miss a shot. I was relentless. This match lasted so long that, the sun went down and the USTA official moved everything indoors. It was my match that clinched a 5-4 victory for the team. I put adversity and things I couldn’t control aside and I battled for my team.
As for my days of doubt with teaching, I often remind myself of past tennis matches. Just like I had 7 other teammates counting on me, I have 120 students counting on me everyday. I remind myself that teaching is about rolling up my sleeves and getting after it. There will be tough days and days of doubt, but keep fighting and just teach.