Ask Me in Twenty Years…or Sooner

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There are some weeks that I wonder if what I do really matters.

I know that this sentiment does not make me a special snowflake. In fact, I am fairly certain that most of us consider from time to time how we should measure our efficacy and our success.

In any case, for me, the past week has been one of those weeks.

How do I measure my success as a coach or a gym owner?

How much money I earn?

How many elite athletes I produce?

Or national, regional or state champions?

College scholarships?

Or the effect I have on a child’s life?

Or, maybe even the better question is what is the effect that the kids I influence have on the rest of the world?

Procrastinating writing this blog post and feeling a little sorry for myself about the less than stellar week I was having, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when I came across a post about a project created a former gymnast, Zayden.

When she was just four years old, Zayden and her family moved to Mexico for two years. While there, Zayden noticed that instead of going to school that many of the young children sold candy and gum on the street. That memory never left her as she always wondered why they were out there instead of at home or at school.

Last year, while in the eighth grade, she was trying to think of an outside of school project when Zayden thought back to those kids. After talking about it with her dad, they decided to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico over her spring break to interview these children and learn each of their stories.

They named the project, “My Small Change.” Its goal is to raise awareness for children all around the world who don’t have an opportunity to earn an education because they work to support their families with the little change they earn on the street each day.

Another goal of the project is to create a photo book expressing the challenges families have to go through everyday just to live. The proceeds of the book will benefit the organizations around the world that support schools and kids who need sponsors.

Please consider visiting My Small Change’s Facebook page and “liking it.” You can also share the page with your friends and help support and get the word out about the interesting work that Zayden is doing.

My procrastinating on Facebook helped me to recall the wisdom of Piggy Lambert, the college coach of John Wooden who called Lambert as having “the greatest influence over me as a player and a coach.”   At the end of one season, when Coach Lambert was asked by the media how well of a job he did as a coach that year, Lambert responded, “Ask me in 20 years and we’ll see how successful these boys are. Then I’ll be able to tell you if I succeeded as a coach.”

Well, Zayden, I don’t know that your coaches or I can lay any claim to your success.   That is yours and yours alone. Nevertheless, we are certainly glad we didn’t have to wait 20 years to see what an incredible young woman you are growing up to be.

Coaches, teachers, parents and anyone who works with kids, we all have Zayden’s that we touch and whose lives we get to influence, remember that when you are wondering if what you do matters. It does.

And Zayden, thank you for reminding me why I do what I do. It’s not for the money or championships, it’s for the opportunity to work with kids like you who go on to do incredible things.

I could not be more proud of you.

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Zayden sharing a moment with one of the children she met.

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“The moment we arrived [at the orphanage] Allan was the only kid who ran up to us and wanted to play and get to know us as much as he could. Eventually we learned that his mother had tried to drown him by throwing him into a well when he was only seven years old. He is now 11. His outlook is so positive because he is now going to school on a regular basis. It’s amazing how much school means to kids.”

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“Anna was the highlight of my trip…along with being friendly, outgoing, and open, she didn’t want to do anything else but learn during my time with her.”

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Zayden as a gymnast at JAG…her talent as grand as her heart!