Journaling helps Steamboat girls tennis dominate North Park

The Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team’s No. 1 doubles pairing of Amanda Dietrich and Liesel Wilkinson approach volunteer coach Kent Foster after winning the first set during a home match against North Fork on Friday, March 25, 2022, at the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Steamboat Springs High School’s No. 1 doubles pairing of senior Liesel Wilkinson and sophomore Amanda Dietrich was the first to finish a girls tennis match during a home competition against North Park on Friday, March 25. The Sailors ended up winning 5-2.

The pair reported their score of 6-0, 6-2, then sat down to write. Coach Bill Conway has asked the team to journal after every match and practice, noting pros and cons, but always including twice as many positives as negatives.

“As athletes, we are really hard on ourselves, and we can tell you a hundred things we did wrong, but you can’t tell me five things you did right,” Conway said. “I don’t know anybody that performs well in a negative mindset. So if we start looking at things and changing our mindset of how we play and being more positive, you’re going to start playing better.”

Dietrich and Wilkinson wrote about missing easy returns and making small mistakes, but they were proud of their serves and volleys. Wilkinson and Dietrich should also consider writing about their chemistry as a positive, especially since it was the first time the two had played together.

Jotting down those notes allows the Sailors to be mindful of what they did well or poorly, rather than walking away from a match without thinking about how it went.

“I like it because you get to think and reflect back on your practice,” said Dietrich. “And hopefully change what you did wrong the next day.”

Conway said journaling is a release that keeps players from dwelling on good or bad thoughts about a match or practice. That’s exactly why No. 3 singles player Sloane Speer thinks journaling has been very helpful.

“I think it’s a great way to get everything out after a bad practice or a good practice,” Speer said. “You can take it all out so you can refresh for the next game or the next practice … If it’s all inside my head, it’s hard to work through it, but if I can write it down, it solidifies it.”

Sloane said a positive she’d write down after her 6-0, 6-2 win would be that she was persistent and kept at it. A negative would be her inconsistent ground strokes.

The team was hesitant to buy into the idea at first, not seeing how journaling could help, but they’ve officially seen the light.

“Even though I don’t like it while I’m doing it, it does help,” Wilkinson said.

Now, it’s turned into a team bonding experience with all the girls gathering together after practice to come up with constructive pros and cons.

Conway and the other coaches will go through the journals and read what players are confident in or need to work on and combine that with what they see from the Sailors.

The Sailors have been accepting of advice and criticism from their coaches. Conway thinks their coachability and desire to buy in is what’s allowed them all to make such dramatic improvements in the early season.

Conway gives players specific notes based on their abilities and his opponent, and they go for it.

The Sailors No. 1 singles player Kelsey Norland focused on her forehand and won 6-1, 6-2, while No. 2 singles player Grace Brice focused on consistency rather than hitting hard. She won 6-1, 6-1.

Steamboat Springs 5, North Park 2

Singles: 1. Kelsey Norland, SS, def. North Park 6-1, 6-2. 2. Grace Brice, SS, def. North Park 6-1, 6-1. 3. Sloane Speer, SS, def. North Park 6-0, 6-2.

Doubles: 1. Amanda Dietrich and Liesel Wilkinson, SS, def. North Park 6-0, 6-2. 2. Avery Olson and Kali Waldman, SS, def. North Park 6-0, 6-0. 3. North Park def. Molly Hopkins and Charlotte Teuscher, SS, 6-4, 2-6, 11-9. 4. North Park def. SS, default.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.