My sister lives in North Dakota. She teaches high school and has coached the girl’s volleyball team there for 20 years. I know that every year her team makes it to the state finals and that she often not only wins the state tournaments, but has also many times been named coach of the year for North Dakota.
Now, I am not an athlete and I’ve never understood much about her world and what she does. She was always great at sports, I struck out each and every time I got to bat in the one year I spent in softball.
I went to her house last week for Thanksgiving. She was gracious enough to host our entire family. My brother in law called me a few days before I left to tell me that some of her players and their parents were planning a surprise celebration for her because she had just won her 500th game. Even I know that winning 500 games must be a pretty big deal but I had no idea what kind of an impact she has made on her players and her community.
I am so incredibly grateful that my flights were on time so that I could witness this celebration first hand. We arrived at her school to find over a hundred people waiting to honor her. There were tearful speeches. There was cake. The local news station sent out a camera and a reporter.
What stuck me though, was not the number of people in the room or the fact that she’d be on the news that night. I realized that for the first time in my life I was seeing my sister as she really is, at her best, in her element.
I saw the reverence that each and every current and former player brought to her as they waited patiently in line to shake her hand and congratulate her. I saw the tears in their eyes as they told my sister how she had impacted them and their lives. I saw my sister accepting these words with grace and elegance. I saw her not as the younger sibling I used to boss around, but as an accomplished woman who each and every day brought the best of herself to the work that she does. I saw how much she’s invested in all the girls she’s coached; I saw the generosity she’s shown to her entire community.
I saw her as the rock star that she is in her world. I’d never thought of her like that before. I think of another sister as a rock star, she’s a world-class mountaineer. I know that some people see me as a rock star simply because I’ve had a certain amount of success in my fashion career but seeing my sister this way made me stop to think- maybe everyone is a rock star in their own way. None of us can know, just by looking at someone else, how they’ve impacted the people in their lives.
Beyond the quantifiable markers of my sisters success, the 500 wins or the number of times she’s won Coach of the Year, I see now that the way she worked with the hundreds of girls who played for her is the real reason I see her as a rock star. In addition to being incredibly proud of her, I’m grateful that I finally was able to see her as she really is.
I am inspired by her grace and her humility and her honor.
What a gift, to discover the true nature of someone I thought I knew.