Hamel: Happy Journal #32

Opinion Editor Peyton Hamel notes the importance of your influence in the world around you. 

Peyton Hamel

I could not maintain my excitement when I received my “Thank you!” cards from the little girls I coach independently twice a week every Tuesday and Thursday. They are full of color, rainbows and love, and I realized I am going to miss their smiles dearly while I am away. 

I originally met them in a class I helped teach with an older tennis pro. One little girl, Emily, was too young and inexperienced to participate with the other kids. These are all 5- to 7-year-olds, so they are all fresh on the block concerning tennis skills. So, the other coach told me to take her aside and coach her myself, starting from the beginning. 

Emily was 4 years old at the time, turning 5 during the time of the class, so her hand-eye coordination was very poor and her arm strength was nearly nonexistent. Still, I had to work with her throughout the month to get her where she needed to be. 

I got very close to Emily during that twice-a-week monthlong class. I now remember some of my best memories in that month of June were because of Emily, which continued in the month of July. 

On the last day of class, I checked my email, finding a message from Emily’s mother, who inquired about me independently coaching Emily for the upcoming month. I couldn’t resist saying no! 

I ended up coaching three little ladies, Emily, Alaina and Natalie, for the next month. I can’t even tell you how proud I am of how far they have come in the sport. (I’m even quite shocked at how fast they improved.) Sometimes they were complete pickles, but they were always eager to learn.

My favorite memory of Emily had to be about two classes ago, when she was staring through the gaps in the trees where the sun poked through and was running away from it. She started screaming, “Stop! It’s chasing me!” She ended up in a panicking fit because she thought the sun was chasing her.

I will miss her so much. 

You never know who you are influencing on the day-to-day basis. You never know who’s watching. You never know whose eye you’re catching. 

You are a role model through and through, and I realized now that if I hadn’t put that effort in each day I was with Emily in June, I wouldn’t have been able to be the role model she needed in tennis and in life. I never would have thought those small interactions would have become such an insurmountably important piece of my summer. 

I remember our last day together: I broke the rules. I hugged Emily and told her I would miss her, and she said she would miss me too. Her sister, Alaina, told me she loves tennis because of me and she would never give it up. I have two more lessons with Natalie, so we will just have to see how she thinks of tennis (and me) at the end. 

Always be your best self, no matter the situation. You are valuable and you always have something to offer. Who knows? A surprising opportunity might be around the corner just because you were nice to someone.