One student however has become a member of my family. For the past three years TJ Dobson has taught me more about myself than anyone I have ever met. The crazy part is that before TJ tried out for the team as a freshman I didn't know anything about him or his family. After every practice TJ would walkout and say "Have a good night coach" I would joke with the other coaches saying "Is TJ trying to kiss my butt so he can start?" As the season progressed I saw and learned a lot about TJ, he may not be the most talented basketball player but he will run through a wall for his team and his coaches. He listens and knows how to make everyone smile after a tough game. I was the same kind of player when I was in high school, TJ and I have more than just similar basketball skills in common.
High school was not easy for me, I had a lot go on personally while I was in high school and I never had a coach or teacher ask me what was wrong. I'm sure it showed because friends often asked what was wrong. I promised myself that I would be a friend before I was a coach. I want my athletes to talk to me and I want to help them with any problem that they may have. For two years TJ and I built a level of trust and I can't put into words how much that means to me. From going to breakfast to grabbing a bite before games just being able to talk with TJ has made him a brother to me and I'm sure that he looks at me like a brother.
As much as it seems like I have helped TJ I must say that he has helped me through a lot this past year. When TJ showed up for "Sharkie" and "Minnies" birthday parties I couldn't help but smile. He is like a brother to me but is referred to as "Uncle TJ Dobson" when the kids see him. At 18 I didn't know how to interact with toddlers and would be terrified, Uncle TJ Dobson is a natural and seeing "Minnie" hug him just brings a smile to my face.
TJ has taught me that it is ok to have fun and act like a kid. He may have to steal my clipboard before a game and diagram a new play that looks like something weird but it makes me smile and makes me realize that life is good. He may not be able to shoot a three pointer like me but he will try and like me miss a lot during games. He will also say that I'm pregnant and pick on my dad body but I know it is because he is upset his gut is bigger than mine. That sounds a lot like a brother to me, he is just jealous of his cooler older brother!!
Tomorrow as I'm waiting to start the time trial I will be very nervous and way to serious. I will close my eyes as the clock counts down and think about TJs favorite play, circles. I will also think about his starting line up and what he thinks I do when Leanne and I go to the spa. I will start to laugh and smile and at that moment I will realize that I'm just riding a bike and that the bike is the common theme. Knowing that I will be out of the gate and I will work just like another bike rider, I will look down and see a Livestrong bracelet and that will get me on the podium. I will not be racing for myself tomorrow, I will be racing for TJ and when I get that medal I will give it to my brother!!