Do you make space for level three conversations?

It was day 2 of a 3 day competition. Samantha (Sam) walked over to her friend, Tonya - who coached at a different school - as both of their teams were stretching and warming up.

Tonya asks, "How are you?"

Sam responds (knowing she'd have to get back to her athletes in a matter of minutes), "I'm doing (she paused)...good I guess." 

In reality, she wasn't doing well...and Tonya knew at least some of the background. 

In April, they had been to the same coaching summit and had one of the most pivotal conversations of Sam's coaching career so far.

She hadn't realized how much her and Tonya had in common - until they actually had a chance to talk.

Both been through similar challenges that year with their head coach. Both had been at a crossroads - with decisions they needed to make about a next step along their coaching journey.

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How female coaches become isolated

I was on a coaching call recently with a head coach who was in her third season at a new school. Things were "going well" for her and her team.

"I'm starting to hit my stride," she said proudly. She seemed to have buy in, athletes were working hard, the team was performing, captains didn't report any complaints, and things were rolling along. 

Her biggest challenge at the moment was feeling disconnected from coaches within her athletic department...and especially isolated from other female coaches. Honestly, she was hurt by this. She had made a few attempts...and been shut down. She didn't know what else to try.

She was single, they had kids. She was new, they had all been there "forever". When she went by their offices to initiate some small talk...they were either too busy or made up excuses to go do something else.

Can you relate?

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How are you REALLY doing right now?

It was day 2 of a 3 day competition. Samantha (Sam) walked over to her friend, Tonya - who coached at a different school - as both of their teams were stretching and warming up.

Tonya asks, "How are you?"

Sam responds (knowing she'd have to get back to her athletes in a matter of minutes), "I'm doing (she paused)...good I guess." 

In reality, she wasn't doing well...and Tonya knew at least some of the background. 

In April, they had been to the same coaching summit and had one of the most pivotal conversations of Sam's coaching career so far.

She hadn't realized how much her and Tonya had in common - until they actually had a chance to talk.

Both been through similar challenges that year with their head coach. Both had been at a crossroads - with decisions they needed to make about a next step along their coaching journey.

Sam was on the verge of tears...yet, she forced a smile. She knew she had to just keep it together to get through the day. "How are you, Tonya?" 

Tonya answers, "I'm okay. You know - there's a lot of stuff going on. I'm sure you've had your fair share of challenges to deal with this season, too. But all in all, for the moment, things are...mmmmm...at least, somewhat manageable."

They both laughed and nodded their heads in agreement - with the unspoken understanding that they were "in-season". 

They knew they had to keep things light and their conversation right at the surface. No time to really connect, show emotion, or explore any part of the iceberg that was looming underneath the surface. They both knew it - without even bringing it up.

One of Sam's athletes runs up to ask for something. They give each other a quick hug, a high five, and then both go back to their teams.

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