To, My Girls:
I write you this letter following the first challenge you have faced this season. Expectations were high and the bars were set even higher; "By whom" you may ask? Yourselves, of course. Your talent, your drive, your hopes and your dreams have brought you to this place. This place that was built off of years and years of sweat, chalk, tears, broken bones and broken dreams… the perseverance of a program that in only a decade has done a complete 180 degree turn from the bottom of the bottom to the peak of the mountain.
You must understand that outsiders do not see what you've been through. They don't know of your personal struggles or the bricks that were laid before you in order to pave the way to where you now stand. They don't know that when one of you is down, the rest of you feel it. They don't see the way you fight for each other and pick each other up day after day. All they know is the professionalism, the dominance and the pride of the legacy of your family. And they know that your family has beaten theirs, so they intend to do whatever it takes to beat yours.
There are always going to be comments that sting and people who forget that you are athletes with feelings, and not robots who perform to perfection on command. Forgive them. They are excited to have exceeded their own expectations and proud of themselves, and they absolutely should be. In doing this though, they do not realize that pointing out their victory to you only highlights the failure that you feel in your heart. They are going to hurt your feelings and losses will always sting. The important thing for you to remember is that every experience is a learning experience, and if you came away from this competition knowing the true importance of teamwork, you're one step closer to where you want to be.
I can tell you that my only disappointment would have been if you had lost without grace and humility, and I know that was not the case. I am so proud of each one of you, and I know that this team has a long journey ahead of them. I can see in your eyes, the fire has been lit. Make no excuses, ever. Take one more turn, and take it with intention. Promise yourself and your team that you will do WHATEVER you can to better the team, and the end result will take care of itself. No one is going to hand you anything in this world… and gymnastics is no different. If there is something you want, you have to get out there and take it.
There is a target on your backs. As long as you win, everyone else will always strive to beat you. I only ask that you put blinders on to the nay sayers, ignore the snarky comments and stick to what you know best… there are 20 other girls standing next to you up there who would do anything to see you succeed, and three coaches who believe in you more than you know. Like I said before, I know the fire has been lit… let's keep adding to it, and watch it light up the sky!
I believe in you!