Wow. I haven’t done a daily prompt in forever, but I liked this one, so here goes…
I honestly had a hard time thinking about what activity brings out my competitive nature the most. I mean, I’m pretty competitive in every single thing I do. I remember in high school I always wanted to be the first one finished with a test. It didn’t matter what subject the test was in, if it was my best subject or not, or if I knew the material the best, I raced through it so I could be the first one done. Then, in college it was all about having the most fun. If I wasn’t the drunkest at every party I wasn’t satisfied. If I wasn’t the LIFE of every party, it wasn’t a good party. Everything bigger. Everything better. And while the things I am competitive about change, the competitive nature itself remains intact. For example: I’m driving in a merge lane, and the guy driving straight is just a little bit behind me, so I pick up speed to beat him. And I realize it’s not safe, but I just CAN’T LET HIM BEAT ME. Maybe that’s what I should be talking about in therapy.
Anyway, while I was coaching high school tennis, that competitive nature went to another level, even though I wasn’t playing but coaching instead. It was hard to stand on the sideline and give advice, tips, and encouragement (the things that coaches do), when I could envision myself playing and winning the match in a specific way. But, as a coach, there is a different type of competition, the one between coaches. It was pretty cutthroat for me, actually, knowing that in a given situation I could beat another coach at positioning players, at turning around losing matches, and at the overall match score itself.
First, there was coming up with a lineup, which was almost like putting pieces on a chessboard and hoping your pieces win, but it was a little more than just hope. You see, in high school girls’ tennis there are three singles spots, and four doubles teams that play in each match, making a total of seven matches played in a larger team match. If you win four, you win the match, as simple as that. So, I had to pick what I felt were my three best singles players and my four best doubles teams, and the rest of the players were alternates. Now, I was a singles player myself in high school so it was relatively easy to determine singles players for my teams. That’s actually where we shined. It wasn’t easy, either, because of personalities.
My first season coaching I had two girls who were legitimate possibilities for my number one singles position, so I had them play each other. I could have followed precedent since they were so close in ability and put the senior in first position and the sophomore in second, but being so competitive, I had to see them play it out. They did, and the sophomore beat the senior in three straight matches. They were all three impossibly close, but in the end my sophomore knew how to seal the deal, which is what I needed in a number one singles player. My competitive nature won out, and I chose the sophomore for my number one singles position. Well, my senior wasn’t pleased at all, and I offered her the first doubles spot with a partner, but she wanted singles badly and didn’t want to play second. As a coach, I had to speak with her and her parents about my decision and she eventually gave in and played second singles. She ended up going to sectionals that season, and the team had a phenomenal year as well. You see, I hate to lose.