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Getting Cut

I’m not talking about trimming your hair, getting an abrasion that might require stitches, working out to get ripped abs, but rather about getting cut from a team.

This past week I had to cut our JV tennis team roster from 19 down to 13. It was a pressure that made me a bit uncomfortable at first because in all of my years of coaching, this is the first time I had to make cuts. There were 6 kids I had to tell them the bad news, and it reminded me of getting cut from the baseball team in 8th grade.

Baseball was my favorite sport as a kid. I played almost year round in competitive leagues, all star teams, etc. On days I didn't have a practice or game, I would come home from school, grab a skinny yellow bat and some of those golf ball sized whiffle balls, and I would pitch myself balls and hit them across the yard. For hours. After dinner, my dad would get a bucket of tennis balls and pitch to me, and I’d use my metal bat and smash them down the street and into the neighbors yards (they didn't mind). We’d pick them up and keep hitting until it was pitch black outside and we couldn't see any longer. I even tracked my own stats on index cards and re-configured my averages after every game. I would read my bible on days that it was raining and pray that I would still have my baseball game that day (trying to get favor with God? Not quite sure my rationale back then). I was an avid baseball card collector and grew up an Atlanta Braves fan in the early 90’s when they were the best in the world. In 8th grade I tried out for the JV baseball team, played extremely well during tryouts, and ended up getting cut. Surprised that many players made it who didn’t have better skills than me, I decided to visit the coach after and ask him why I didn’t make the team. Coach Ballard said I was too small. At 4’11 75 lbs he cut me because of size. I had no response. It had stunned me that my opportunity was cut short because of something I couldn’t control. Not because I hadn’t worked hard enough or put in the time or had the experience, but because I just happened to be a late bloomer. I went on to try out and make the varsity tennis team and ended up starting and playing that sport the next 5 years (even though it had only been my second favorite sport up to that point). But looking back, I’m very glad everything turned out the way it did.

Getting cut is a necessary part of life. With a tree, cutting (or pruning) is necessary for the health of the tree. It encourages new growth, prevents decay, helps a tree become more structurally sound, and is best for the overall health of the tree. Pruning a tree can influence in what way a tree grows. With proper pruning, a tree can be made to grow into a certain configuration of limbs and branches that is more ideal for the structural integrity of the tree. Each time you make a cut, you stop growth in one direction and encourage it in another.

And just like it is with a tree, so is it as growing organisms. For the JV tennis team, it was important for the 13 kids that did make the team to get the satisfaction of being rewarded for their hard work, and it was a good lesson for the ones that didn’t make it to learn they just need to practice more and get better. Or maybe find a different sport that is a better fit. It doesn’t matter what they do other than adjust their effort and focus. When I called each kid on Friday that got cut I made sure to focus on improving the things they CAN control - unlike Coach Ballard who could have been a bit more graceful in his reasoning to me as an impressionable 13 year old! Side note: Coach Ballard was also a history teacher and had a hole in the side of his desk because he kicked it in one day after a student spoke back to him. Looking back on my experience of getting cut from baseball, it ended up all working out the way it was supposed to so I don't hold it against him by any means.

So this week I encourage you to think about your life and what are certain areas that could use a trim. Focus on where can you cut out some habits or use of your time and focus your energy on areas that will lead to growth.

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