My first baseball coach was a strict yet kind woman named Janice who sported the feathered hair so common in the 1970’s.

When I met my team I was the new kid, the only one who hadn’t played prior to that season; I was petrified.

Leading up to our first game, I only had two practices where I followed the other players, doing my best to imitate them and act like I knew what I was doing.

I was seven.

I didn’t start that first game at Town of Lakes Little League, rather I rode the pine and watched the first-stringers play.

Come the fourth inning, the rule stated that the benchwarmers had to play so my coach had to choose a position for me to play.

She chose Right Field.

If you know anything about baseball, right field is where the worst player goes because the ball gets hit there the least. You can usually spot right-fielders picking the grass as they wait for the inning to end.

Regardless of its relative safety, I told my coach I wasn’t ready to get out there.

What followed was one of those moments, a moment that shaped my playing career.

Coach Janice grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye, and with absolute sincerity said,

“You Can Do This.”

Then she slapped the bill of my cap and told me to get out there.

Two boring outs later, I was standing there, bored and thinking about picking a dandelion when my time came.

As the batter swung I heard the distinct crack of the wooden bat that sent a flyball hurtling down the right field sideline.

I was stunned, but quickly ran for the ball like i was being chased by a wild dog and held out my mitt.

In that moment, it felt like my entire life depended on this one play.

As I reached out, I closed my eyes and felt something hit my hand. When I opened my eyes, there was the baseball nestled in the pocket of my mitt.

As I caught the ball to retire the side I continued to run toward the dugout, and to the cheers of my teammates like I planned the whole play, the conquering hero.

That is my earliest memory of self-doubt transformed into self-confidence because someone I looked up to honestly said,”you can do this.”

CONFIDENCE is January’s Powerful Word and a skill that is often attributed to a natural ability that comes from within, of the have-it or don’t-have-it variety.

One of my paradoxes in martial arts and character development is how do you develop confidence when you are full of doubts?

That takes someone else to have confidence in you, to believe in you when you don’t even believe in yourself at the time, someone who can see it in you when you yourself cannot.

The confidence, belief, and support of a teacher, a coach, a friend, or a parent can set the engine of confidence in motion.

It’s no coincidence that Confidence is also the Yellow Belt Theme because around this time is when students get enough feedback and results to know that they can and are improving, that yes, they can do this.

We all need someone, at some time, to confidently say to us, ” You Can Do It.”