1) Well, it's sailing, so I get to be in a dinghy, on the water, which is always fun.
2) When you go to give an athlete a high five or take their hand, they'll pull you in for a hug every time.
3) The athletes aren't afraid to say when they're afraid, or nervous. What a cool thing. In so many other circumstances I see people trying to pretend they're not afraid. I pretend I'm not afraid. These guys don't. And when you vocalize your feelings, you can get help and move beyond them. I have so much to learn.
4) It's all about sportsmanship, so everyone yells "good job!" to the people in the other boats, almost every time you sail by.
5) The competition really means something to them. It reminds me of how memorable and important competition can be for self-esteem.
I live in my own head so much, and I have these ridiculously high standards for what my level of achievement and my body and my brain and my social life should look like, and I feel like I'll never be what I could/should be. And then I show up to coach and the athletes break into a big grin and I get hugs and I ask E about her job bagging groceries and whether she caught any fish this weekend, and P gives me a long silent hug and L punches my lifejacket and directs adolescent insults at me, and I say who wants to go sailing and they all smile, and I feel like a million bucks.