The Ride by Mary Banker

If you have been around me for five minutes you know I love to learn. Yes I read professional development books, watch Ted Talks, attend trainings but I always learn the most insightful lessons within conversations I have with people.  This is why I enjoy spending time in one on one settings or in small groups, and I find great value in that time and space.

This past week while at dinner I had one of those moments. My friend’s father shared a quote with him that has always stuck throughout his life, and I will say it has done the same for me after hearing it. I have thought about it every day since last Thursday night.

“There never was a horse that couldn’t be rode, there never was a cowboy that couldn’t be throwed.”

At first I didn’t have an immediate reaction to it. Truth be told I actually started thinking about horses. Then he went on to explain how it directly applied to his life over and over again without fail. There is never a time you cannot succeed and there is never a time you cannot fail. The simplicity of this quote so eloquently moved through every life experience I have had up until this point. My mind became a movie reel of my life.

I saw my attempt at the game winning three point shot against our long-term rival roll around the rim and not sink, falling in the hurdles and not making it to state, getting my first B in my major during college, standing up for something I believed in and being fired for it, navigating difficult family dynamics, friends that drifted away, not being able to fix my Grandfather as he took his last breaths…That same reel took me to places of absolute bliss as well. I saw the night I was on fire draining threes and becoming player of the game, hearing students in the hallways sing and hum the songs I sang the night before in the play, running the fastest split in our 4×400 relay at nationals after being dropped in because our fastest teammate had a stress fracture, becoming an All-American, making the Dean’s list, looking at my Mother for the first time as my hero and actually understanding what that meant, being asked to teach what I know to others, having my mentor who is an Olympic Coach tell my colleague I was one of the best in the coaching field, having my Grandfather tell me he was proud of me.

You see every one of us can fail, and every one of us can succeed. And we will. That is not the question; it is instead a fact. Now how do we respond? How do we grow? Do we learn? Do we shrink back and keep ourselves safe and comfortable? How can we move through this life and embrace this idea for everything that it is?

I have been blessed in absolute abundance by my career. I have found myself in places where I am able to directly impact others, both young and old, both girls and boys, men and women. I am about to start spending much more of my time at Girls in the Game out in the field with the girls. I can’t wait. As a team we create a space for girls to not only succeed but also to fail. Every girl has the opportunity to learn how to do both. We teach up to 25 sports a year with purpose. Our goal isn’t to make sure the girls know how to play tons of sports; it is instead to provide them the space to try something they are not comfortable with, something new, something they may fail at the first time. We do this so they can pick that ball back up, grab the bat again, try that dance just one more time until they get the hang of it. Sometimes they don’t want to, sometimes they try to hide and stay safe and comfortable, but that’s when our coaches step in, that’s when they see our adult volunteers trying new things and realize that they aren’t struggling alone.

Life isn’t a cozy and comfortable place. It is a place of challenge, struggle, growth and it is vital to learn how to navigate this beautiful gift. Girls in the Game is working to empower our girls to find their strength and to embrace the lessons so they are able to step out of their hiding place, to hear their own voice, to trust their own words, to succeed not only in success but in failure.

I hope this blog finds you in a place that is not too comfortable. I hope it finds you in a place ready to step back into something that has seemed to own you. I hope it finds you in a place of humility if you are at the top. I hope it pushes you no matter what side of that quote you find yourself. I know where we will be at Girls in the Game, we will be the backdrop for the beautiful movie reel being created every day for each one of our girls.

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