On Sunday, November 11th we cancelled practices in California for 20 teams. In the past two years we have been forced to cancel programs due to poor air quality multiple times- in California, Oregon, and Utah. In Texas, we have had to cancel due to the hurricane and floods. It feels appropriate because there are so many people experiencing disaster- how can we go on with our daily lives?

These Tenacity teams however, can be the one consistent thing we have amidst the chaos. Instead of scrapping the whole day, and instead of retreating into ourselves, we decided to take the opportunity to hold a different kind of practice. What we decided to focus on was… CONNECTION… through video calls!

Connection is an important thing we get from sports. We can get physical connection from a high five or hug, a verbal connection through a challenge, and an emotional connection through a shout of support. On Veteran’s Day, we wanted to get the girls outside of their own heads, their worries, and their teenage rumination. Just being able to see everyone’s faces before heading into Thanksgiving and more weeks away from each other was important. In the case of some players, it was about touching base and easing angst heading into a national recruiting tournament in Florida. In order to further emphasize the importance of gratitude and selflessness, at the end of the calls, we had them write to us for the rest of “practice time.”

The homework for the girls was to write an essay about their mother or someone who is their mother/parent figure. Minutes after the calls were over we started to receive dozens of emails, pdf files, and google docs flooding the inbox, PLAY@TENACITYPROJECT.ORG.

Some notes were short but very sweet. Some were so well structured they could be turned in for a grade at school. All of them expressed gratitude.  All of them showed that the girls notice.

To our Mothers: They notice your hard work, they notice the big things you do for them, and, they see the little things more than you may realize. They know enough of what you have overcome in your life to want to emulate your strength and resilience. And they have a cache of specific lessons they have learned from you in their short lifetimes. The mother essays were about grandmothers in some cases, as well as guardians, other mentors, or even fathers. The girls are grateful for the people in their home.

I am grateful to my mother for showing me that it is always possible to find a way. And… every opportunity to connect does matter, so we do what we can to show the girls what that means. On the day the Houston teams were rained out in Maryland- at the same time we were getting “smoked out” in California- Jan Sherry hosted 50 people for dinner in her Baltimore home. She, along with our amazing coaches, and the players’ parents on the trip, made it possible for everyone to connect, when it wasn’t necessarily the easy thing to do. They focused on what they had rather than the things out of our control that went wrong on that day.

The power of connection starts with our parents, and the people we have in our lives the most. When the chaos of life is overwhelming, when our corner of the world seems in peril, we look to our parents.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones. I hope you can spend time with the people you call your parents or enjoy special memories of those you called parents at one point in your life. Join us in #givingwithtenacity this Tuesday, by expressing gratitude in someone’s honor. Maybe it’s your mother.

Theresa Sherry
CEO, The Tenacity Project

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