Post-Season Stories: Denim

Coach Mueller has been an extraordinary tennis coach at Pitts-Ashburton Elementary in Baltimore. Don't let his smile fool you, because Coach Mueller can get really competitive! He pushes our ACE-ers to be better, faster, and stronger athletes. Here is his Post-Season Story, “I Can Do It!”:

As I examined the kindergarten and first grade class, I was a little nervous. Twelve students under the age of 7 and I was supposed to teach them tennis. My nerves started to calm when I saw the joy and excitement on their faces. We sat in a circle in the middle of the gym talked about the word perseverance. One boy said that perseverance was to keep trying to do things even if it is hard. I smiled as I told them that he was right and that they were going to have to use perseverance today at practice.

“Toes on line one!” I shouted. I explained that the first activity we were going to was called jacks. This is when the ball is dropped, hit up in the air, and then caught. The other coaches and I passed out the rackets and tennis balls. For some of these students it was the first time they held a real tennis racket. Students spread themselves out in the gym and started practicing.

After a minute of practicing the drill, I saw a little girl named Denim. She had her arms crossed and a frown on her face. I asked her what was the matter and she looked at me and said, “I can’t do it!”  I realized that she was upset. We talked about perseverance and that we should keep trying even when it is tough. I then modeled how to do jacks again. Then it was her turn to try. She tried again but still could not do it. She asked to take a break so I let her. After a few minutes, she came up to me and said she was ready to try again.

Denim dropped the ball, hit it straight up, let it bounce and caught it. Her face was beaming a big smile. “I can do it!” she shouted. I watched her do the drill 7 times in a row before she had to chase the ball. Denim proved that hard work pays off. I think everyone can learn a powerful lesson from Denim. When life gets difficult we cannot give up. We should not be afraid of failure. We need to learn from it and keep trying to achieve our goals.