As soon as we sat down at our table we wanted to leave. Watching my former employer take the mic and brag about the fabulousness of her gym had us wishing for barf bags.
I'd prepared myself for an evening of feeling awkward. I hated watching my team be presented with certificates I wasn't allowed to sign. I resented that I didn't get any credit for some of the unprecedented accomplishments my team had achieved. But I expected it. What I didn't expect was how my gymnasts were going to react to my name being left off of their certificates.
As soon as the level 4 awards were completed and the level 5 awards started, I heard a young voice behind me say, "Tara, will you sign my certificate since you were my coach most of the season?" I turned to see a line of my former gymnasts standing behind my chair waiting for my signature that rightfully belonged on their certificates. I signed each one through tear-filled eyes.
When it was time for the level 7 awards, Alyssa made her way to the front of the room. Each of her teammates were given a certificate but it quickly became evident that Alyssa had somehow been overlooked. A very awkward few minutes followed as the gym owner, my former employer for whom I have lost all respect, made painfully lame comments like, "How did this happen? We checked them all twice." And, "Didn't we do this to you last year?" Or the best one, "You'd think this was my first rodeo, wouldn't you?"
Our exaggerated eye rolls were a small outward expression of our immeasurable inward disgust. But thankfully there were other awards for Alyssa to take the attention away from the certificate oversight.
"Here, we have an award for you, Alyssa. You're 'Miss Bars.'" (Awarded to the gymnast that was the highest scoring gymnast on bars over the course of the season.) The trophy was handed to Alyssa while they quickly searched for a blank certificate.
After the other event awards were distributed, Alyssa was given a trophy for "Miss Sunshine." "Miss Sunshine" is a coach's choice award for the gymnast who "lights up their life." Have we ever mentioned how much we love Alyssa's coaches, Chen and Tia? This award shows that they love her too!
Lys' two new trophies
I didn't go up front when the booster club presented the coaches with their end-of-year gifts but they did give me my gift on the side. It was a $50 Mastercard and giant card signed by the girls.
And after all was said and done, my team and their parents presented me with an enormous bouquet and $100 spa gift card. Their support has gotten me through these last few difficult months.
My former co-coach, Michelle, and a few of our gymnasts.
My favorite Level 4 gymnast!
The evening had come to an end and one parent said to me, "Now go parade [the flowers] past [the gym owner]!"
So we walked out, me with my head held high and feeling a bit like Miss America with my heavy bouquet. This was it, our last big hurdle. The last event we would participate in with this gym. We knew we had to leave. Our hearts could not heal if we stayed.
So we didn't.
Here's to new beginnings...
(stayed tuned for more details.)