The obvious lesson Mr. Kelly taught me was to believe in myself. So often, we put ourselves down or don’t promote from within, even if we are good at something.

In junior high, I had mad soccer skills. I could dance around the ball with the best of them. I was a speedy left wing and often found the back of the net.


My left foot was just as strong as my right. In fact, if I didn’t score in each game, I considered myself a failure. I enjoyed my role as the top offensive player on my junior high team.


It was a role I worked hard for. I attended soccer camps and clinics where I learned various footwork skills, how to lay up a pass, how to perfect that first touch and where to aim when shooting at the net.


In practice, I treated it like a game. I was competitive, but mostly I was competitive with myself. Then Wendy came to town.


Going into eighth grade, I was excited entering soccer season. We were the “seniors,” if you will, and I had built up a reputation as an all-star soccer player.


A new girl, Wendy, had moved to town that same year. She played soccer, and she was good, really good. From day one, it was obvious the addition of Wendy in the midfield was going to make us an even better soccer team.


Wendy was a strong athlete who had amazing footwork. She was confident and, to top it off, incredibly friendly.


I was jealous. My time as top dog was over.


As the season progressed, my green envy turned to excitement, as we celebrated an undefeated season. Wendy was a huge contributor for our success.


We held our final team meeting where we each got a piece of paper to vote on the team’s most valuable player. I struggled with that decision. I wanted to vote for myself. I had worked hard, put in the time and felt I had been a major player in our success. Then again, so was Wendy. She had set up many goals, stopped many opponents from scoring and was just as deserving.


As the team turned in their votes and filtered out, I found myself alone with my coach, Mr. Kelly. I looked up at him, and he surprised me.


“You can vote for yourself Heather,” he said.


So I did. I wrote my name on the paper, handed it over to him and hurried out of the room.


At our soccer banquet, when it was time to distribute the MVP trophy, Mr. Kelly announced there was a tie for the award. He called both my name and Wendy’s to share in the honors.


The obvious lesson Mr. Kelly taught me was to believe in myself. So often, we put ourselves down or don’t promote from within, even if we are good at something.


We minimize our talents and strengths for the benefit of others. Or sometimes our insecurities get in the way. Mr. Kelly gave me permission that day to stand up and say, “I deserve this.”


There is nothing wrong with a little self-promotion. I’m not saying go all Barry Bonds, but there is no need to be a wallflower, either. Maybe the trick is to fall somewhere in the middle.


Once you start to believe in yourself, the rest of life seems to fall into place.


Heather Harris is reporter for the Norton Mirror, Mansfield News and Easton Journal in Masscahusetts. A three-sport athlete and two-sport college athlete, sports have long been a passion of hers. The mother of two can be seen running through the streets of Mansfield, Mass., where she currently resides.