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A Walk Among Giants

September 18th, 2018

By Marjorie DeRubeis


Any parent will tell you that in parenting there are moments of horror sprinkled in between those peaks of pride. Parenting is not for the weak of heart, but if you’re lucky enough to get the job, it can be the most rewarding.

My ten-year-old daughter is a volleyball player. We encourage such activities for many reasons, none of which are more important than to build self-esteem.

For this seriously introverted kid, this is key. Her Volleyball Club hosted a pre-school-tryout clinic. It said for 5 th -12 th grade, she’s a 5 thgrader, I thought perfect! Not perfect. Apparently, this is secret code for-High School Students ONLY. As my 4-foot child stood among giants, she started to freak out. She refused to go in, she wanted out. I wanted her to stay, face her fears and the giants, but she was in no condition to stay. I, as most of us would, lectured all the way home. “I love you, but I’m disappointed. You let your fear shy you away from something you love. You aren’t always going to know everyone or be in comfortable surroundings, sometimes you must push yourself and be uncomfortable. Nothing unexpectedly great ever fell from the ceiling of a bedroom while watching I Love Lucy reruns.”

Trust me, being firm with this one is no easy task. She promptly took her lumps (which I kept dishing all the way home and beyond), got home to write me a very long letter of apology, and then handed me an envelope with her last $8 to partially reimburse me for the $45 of the lesson.

Stay firm Marjorie, stay firm.

The next week we returned. She quickly befriended a 4 1/2-footer, and together they tackled the world of giants. Isabella did so well, she was asked to be the only server on her side of a scrimmage, had giants high fiving her for her awesomeness and even coaches took notice and called her by name. We left with her beaming. She had excelled, resulting in unparalleled pride. After the clinic, she climbed into the back seat of our car and said the words every parent hopes to hear but so few of us ever do, “Why are you always right Mommy?” Do you know how hard it is to remain calm when you’ve seen a unicorn! Let’s hope she remembers this when we navigate the world of boys and short skirts.

What surprised me that night was not how proud I was of her, but the happiness I too felt. I had helped her. I made a difference, helped her see life and herself through my lens and left her better.

I realized in that moment why our College Success Arizona Advisers love their jobs and the students they work with so much. There is such pride and happiness in watching someone prove to themselves they could do something they felt they had no business being a part of, and you helped them get there.

We all have a choice when faced with an opportunity to help someone. It’s easier to say “maybe this isn’t for you”, or say nothing at all. But there is no greater pride you can have in yourself when you encourage, motivate and prove to someone what you knew of them all along, they too can run with giants.


Marjorie DeRubeis is College Success Arizona’s Director of Partnership Development and Success Services

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