My Favorite Team

In each of my 25 seasons of coaching volleyball, I have had one team that is my favorite team of all time. This one.

My greatest joy of coaching is in the journey of each season and what the athletes take with them moving forward. I would like to take the opportunity to communicate to my current team and all of my past teams that I am beyond grateful for what they have left behind with their coach.

Within each season, there are lessons to be learned, challenges to overcome, and triumphs to share. Most importantly though, there are the people we meet along the way who stay with us forever. May we never lose sight of all that we gain by what we give to each other.

-Mike Schall

Youth Sports: What I Care About

My kids love sports. Currently, my oldest daughter plays club volleyball, my two sons play in a YMCA basketball league, and my youngest daughter goes to “practice” (say it in an Allen Iverson voice) once per week to learn how to play volleyball. They play other sports too but these are our current “seasons.”

I love that they love sports. I watch when I can but when I’m not there, life does go on. I don’t want my presence to have any impact on the joy they receive from playing or the effort that they give to their teams. Don’t get me wrong, I go to as many games as I can but if I have a conflict, neither I nor my kids are bothered.

When I watch, I watch. When a good play is made by any player on either team, I clap to acknowledge the play – that’s it – the game isn’t about the parents who are watching from the sidelines. I like seeing kids learn things on their own, discover how to interact with teammates and coaches, and get better at winning and losing. Gasp – losing. I want them to lose? No – I don’t WANT them to lose but I have been involved in sports long enough to realize it’s a potential outcome of competition. So, if I don’t truly care if my kids win or lose their games, what do I care about?

I care about how they respond: To wins. To losses. To injuries. To mistakes. To sitting on the bench. To bad calls. To conflict. To fatigue. To feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or lacking confidence. I care how they respond and sports provides a fantastic experiential learning opportunity.

I care about how they learn: I want them to become good learners. I want them to learn skills, team concepts, and the rules and strategies of the sport they are playing. More importantly, I want them to learn how they learn.

I care about how they communicate: Real human communication. I want them to communicate with their teammates, their coaches, and with other adults like referees, tournament directors, and volunteers who make their experience possible. There has been nothing in my children’s lives that has helped them to become better communicators than their participation in sports.

I care about how they lead: Sports provide my kids with opportunities to speak publicly, to motivate those around them, and to teach others. In addition, sports allow kids to play different roles which is an essential leadership skill as they continue to grow.

My kids have won and lost plenty to know the difference and to also know that the sun has always come up the next day regardless of the result. The outcomes I am most interested in are the joy they give and receive to their team through competition, the relationships that develop and last a lifetime as a result of being on a team, and the experience they have of being part of something bigger than themselves. I also want them to recognize that hard work is its own reward and never guarantees a successful outcome.

-Mike Schall

Making Our Case

In the January 23rd issue of Sports Illustrated, Seth Davis writes about the trend of high school basketball players leaving high school in their senior year so that they can start playing in college earlier.  In “The Case for … Starting College Early,” Davis writes about the Auburn coaching staff approaching a recruit in his junior year at Spain Park High in Alabama.  They encouraged Austin Wiley’s family to arrange an early graduation by transferring to Calusa Prep in Miami while playing basketball for The Conrad Academy in Orlando until he enrolled at Auburn and played in his first game last December.  By my count, that’s four different schools in less than 12 months.

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl argues that players heading to college early “get college coaching” “a meaningful off-season” and “closer to a degree.”  The NCAA appreciates the latter argument, asserting on its website that “the ultimate goal of the college experience is graduation.”  Yet, less than half of Auburn’s men’s basketball players who enrolled in 2009 had earned a degree from Auburn University by 2016 (according to 2016 US Department of Education Federal Graduation Rate statistics).

Kentucky coach John Calipari, who helped 18-year-old Hamidou Diallo enroll at UK this spring even though he may enter the NBA draft next year without ever playing a minute for the Wildcats, added: “If a young man is 18 and has a chance to go to college as an 18-year old, he should do it.  I don’t know why you wouldn’t.”

Unless you consider that only 29% of Wildcat men’s basketball players who enrolled in the school in 2009 earned a University of Kentucky degree by 2016.  To be fair, a record number of Kentucky players left college early to play in the NBA, likely a far more lucrative option than many of their Kentucky classmates had even with a degree.  Kentucky is the outlier however: only 1% of NCAA men’s basketball players actually have the opportunity to play in the NBA.

Click image. NCAA screenshot shows graduation rates vs. professional playing opportunities.  Yes, those are multiple typographical errors on the NCAA website touting the academic success of college student-athletes.

Coach Calipari previously asserted that the advancement of his players’ personal goals is paramount, even more than winning a national championship: “[My mission is] to be the vehicle that helps others reach their dreams, be the stone that creates the ripple in their lives that goes on and on and on.”

Sounds a lot like what we’re trying to do in high school education.  So why do these college basketball coaches feel so confident in publicly dismissing the value of the senior year experience in high school?

It’s not just college football and basketball: we are experiencing this phenomenon in volleyball.  High school student-athletes are increasingly seeking to leave high school early and enroll in college during what would be the spring semester of their senior year, and in response to decreasing participation USA Volleyball has moved up the National Championships for the 18s division, holding the tournament two months before all other age divisions.

I believe that college coaches are doing this for many of the right reasons.  They correctly assert that college coaches have more time and resources to dedicate to the training of student-athletes, including strength, conditioning, nutrition and academic programs.  Certainly having more time with their student-athletes on campus can improve the team dynamic, and college coaches can more quickly identify and address problems with student-athletes during off-season training.

On the other hand, college coaches don’t articulate the disadvantages of transitioning a student months before the rest of their freshman class comes on campus, or address the national statistics that indicate that more students every year are entering college unprepared academically and socially.  Many college coaches bemoan the lack of focus, leadership and program commitment from incoming players, while underestimating the abilities of high school and club coaches who could help form those characteristics.

If I were a college coach, I would want more time with my players too.  The tremendous pressures on athletic programs and the significant responsibilities of players and coaches makes every day with a college team important.

However, as a high school educator, I also want more time to help form these talented young people.  As seniors they can engage in a more personalized academic environment to prepare them for a university classroom.  They should spend time with mentors on campus who can challenge them to become active contributors and leaders, committed to leaving a positive legacy in their high schools.  They should work with coaches who have grown to know them and their families well and can assist them in developing life balance that will be essential in the pressure-packed world of intercollegiate athletics.  They must become mentors and teachers themselves, so that they are prepared to assume that role in college and later in life.  In short: they need to develop the characteristics that universities and intercollegiate athletics programs claim to seek in prospective students, but may be in fact keeping them from gaining by enrolling them in college too early.

Early enrollment isn’t the fault of college coaches or universities.  The fact that nobody is willing or able to articulate the value of the academic, athletic and social formation during the senior year of high school falls squarely on the shoulders of high school administrators, teachers and coaches.  Have we become too comfortable allowing or even enabling “senioritis?”  Has our willingness to allow twelfth graders to coast through classes, practices and competitions rendered the experience expendable?  Have we missed an important leadership opportunity by not pressing seniors into significant responsibilities to care for and lead younger athletes?  In short, are we failing our students by providing a poor senior year experience?

This is a wake-up call for us to examine the senior year in high school classrooms and gymnasiums, and to commit ourselves to providing an exceptional experience making sure that every student and family knows how important the 12th grade is to their short and long-term future.

As Pearl argues, “Why discourage someone from taking advantage of an opportunity to better himself?”

I couldn’t agree more. Shame on us if a student’s senior year in high school doesn’t offer an outstanding chance to better themselves.

It’s time for high school educators to make the case for a high school senior year that every student can’t afford to miss.

-Jason Curtis

Dear Coach Dunning

The first time we “met” was in 1999. I was a young assistant coach at Penn State and we were playing your Pacific Tigers in the National Semifinals in Hawaii. One of my main responsibilities at that time in my coaching career was to scout our opponents. I watched hours of film on your team, and I knew it was going to be a tough matchup. We were coming off two straight seasons of losing in the national finals and while our group was experienced, your team had me worried. You used two different setters and had an outside hitter named Elsa Stegemann. She was fantastic and from what I can recall sitting here today, she had somewhere around 40 kills against us. We managed to win the match in 5 games and then went on to win the finals against a Stanford team featuring the great Kerri Walsh and Logan Tom. Despite your team’s difficult loss against us, you were a true gentleman. As a young coach, I noticed that.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to continue learning from you in a variety of ways. A few times in direct conversation but also in other ways: listening to you talk at coaching clinics, reading articles you wrote, watching you on the sidelines, and – maybe most important – watching your team play. I also know that Madi Bugg, an alumna of Triangle Volleyball Club, where I now serve as the Associate Director, had an incredible experience playing for you at Stanford (where you have coached since leaving Pacific).

This evening, at 9:00, your young Stanford team will battle the University of Texas for the national championship. With all due respect to Texas and their fine team and staff, I hope your team wins. Here is why…

  • You are a true teacher who cares deeply about the health and well being of your athletes.
  • You have created an environment where it is clear that the process of learning matters. Your team got off to a rocky start this year and somehow stormed through the tournament to land in the finals.
  • You are humble. You take the time to talk with everybody you come in contact with.
  • You are an encourager. I have seen you on the sidelines and can never tell if your team is winning or losing.

When I spoke with you briefly yesterday at the AVCA Convention, I didn’t have a chance to thank you for your leadership. So, Coach, I will be cheering for Stanford tonight. Thank you for the example you have set over the years of how a coach should act, how a coach should teach, and how a coach should lead. Regardless of the outcome, I want you to know how much you are appreciated.

With respect,

Mike Schall

Update 12/18/16: Congratulations to Coach Dunning, the Stanford staff, and Stanford players for winning the 2016 NCAA Championships.

Why I Love Tryouts – Really

In my role as a Club Director at Triangle Volleyball Club in Raleigh, North Carolina, mid-October through mid-November mark the most difficult time of the year. And I love it.

Here is what I love about tryouts:

  • Every year, I see kids do things in moments of intense pressure that they have never done before. Pressure and their desire to perform at their very best bring out the absolute best in some kids. I love the opportunity I have to witness them taking a step in the direction of fulfilling their potential.
  • ‘How you do anything is how you do everything.’ – When tryouts are run well, when people (athletes, parents, and coaches) are treated well, and the process is fair, it is a reflection of the club as a whole and the people who want to become part of it. It’s a reflection of the club as a whole when those things are done poorly as well.
  • As leaders, we have the chance to shape the culture of the youth sports experience. I am fortunate that I work with so many coaches who understand the importance of professionalism in the tryout process. I’m also grateful for parents who exhibit trust and respect to the coaching staff during tryouts.
  • We get to teach kids about honesty – when it’s really hard. They may not like the message that we have to deliver sometimes but they deserve honesty. When honesty can be delivered with compassion and with empathy, it allows young people to process the truth in a helpful way. In a way that provides an opportunity for growth in the future. They may not agree and that’s ok but we always want them to feel that they were treated fairly and with respect. This goes for their parents as well.
  • Everyone involved has the chance to learn about courage. There are players who walk in the gym and are obvious selections for one of our teams. There are some players who are not so easy to identify. Then, there are some who may be in over their heads. It is those kids who I respect the most. They come back for three days, getting better every day, and despite the long odds of making a team, they thank us for the opportunity. I am the one who is grateful to them – for showing me year after year what courage looks like.

Tryouts are difficult for everyone involved. In every case, there are difficult decisions to be made. Whether it is 12 kids trying out for 10 spots or, in our case, more than 650 kids trying out for about 320 roster spots, there are tough decisions to make. Our intent every year is to do our best – to be fair in the process and to treat people well. We are not perfect at it but I love that it is meaningful to kids and to their families.

This is why I love tryouts.

-Mike Schall

[Full disclosure – I typically lose 10 pounds, don’t sleep, and feel stressed out for most of the tryout period. I still love it.]

So, Thanks.

We know to give thanks.  We know to express gratitude.  We know what it is to feel favored, blessed, fortunate.  We know all of that, but that doesn’t always mean we think to thank the many who help in life.  I think, ordinarily, that we wait to make some grand gesture when something simple, something small, would do.  So do something little, say something simple this holiday.  Thank a student for something routine, thank a player for something common and often lost to expectation.  Thank a parent, a coworker, a perfect stranger.  Make a point to make someone feel the thanks you know you feel.

Today, right now, in our classroom, the students of my first period are signing a large thank you card for Steve… the custodian who cleans our classroom each night.  No student has met Steve and they likely never think of the fact that someone, some Steve, each night, comes along and cleans our classroom the best he can.  Steve deserves thanks.  This is nothing heroic- it’s a large sheet of paper that will be signed by the 140 some students that pass through the classroom each day.  I feel, though, that it’s important for them to know and remember that Steve, and all the other ‘Steve’s’ in the world, help in invisible ways. When they feel that, when they are reminded of it, they care more, act more, and see the world a little differently if only for a few moments.

So thanks.  Thanks to those who read these posts so often.  Thanks to those who comment. Thanks to those who share their ideas and help us all get a little better.  Thanks.  Truly, thanks.

–Tom Mooney

We Hereby Agree to Be Nice to People

The following post is from Jason Curtis. Court and Classroom is especially thankful for Jim Garman of Garman Homes for allowing us to post this. More importantly we are thankful for the example Jim sets in how he leads his company and treats his customers. 

This is the most unusual contract I’ve ever seen:

Good Attitude

At Garman Homes, We believe a good attitude can change the world. We insist on a good attitude…from Our employees, Our vendors, Our cooperating Brokers, Our Legal & Lender Squad and from You, Our Buyers. We insist.

Mistakes happen all the time. So do misunderstandings, miscommunications and the dreaded perceived mistakes and assumptions. All are likely to put Our Good Attitudes to the test. At some point during construction on Your New Home, We are likely to stumble upon something unexpected. In fact, You should expect the unexpected. We have built hundreds of homes, We know to expect the unexpected.

Our good attitudes can make the difference between working through something unexpected in a collaborative way or stewing about it and trading ‘he said, she said’ emails. Those emails never end well. The gist is, We don’t promise to make any fewer mistakes than other homebuilders. But We DO promise to be honest, sincere and propose ways to move forward. In return, We expect the same from You.

We don’t respond well to yelling and screaming. And We don’t respond well to threats. We prefer working with people who want to find a winwin for everyone involved. If You feel You may struggle with this approach during the building process, We’re not the builder for You. Be honest with Yourself about whether You can commit to a Good Attitude. There is no faking it. We can tell when You’re faking.

We feel so strongly about the importance of a Good Attitude, We reserve the right to terminate Our Agreement at anytime prior to Closing if We feel Our relationship has gone off the rails. The last thing We want is for You to move forward with Your New Home if You are no longer able to offer Us the benefit of the doubt or if You’ve lost the ability to trust Us. It’s tough to imagine now but it happens. In this rare situation, We will return to You the Builder Deposit and, depending on the timing, We may be able to refund Your Option Deposit also.

We love what We do for a living. It is more than a job for every single one of Us. It’s not business, it’s personal. With Your help and positive support, We are confident that We can build a great home for You.

Signed

You:____________ Date:____________ Us:____________ Date:____________                 

Jim Garman, the owner of Garman Homes, was introduced to me by a colleague who was fortunate enough to have a home built by Jim’s team.  We invited him to campus because we were looking for someone who could stimulate new ways of thinking about IT customer service at our school.  Jim is a thoughtful, reflective, creative and passionate “serial entrepreneur,” who is taking advantage of his position as owner to serve as purchasing manager for the year (instead of running the company).

In the frequently contentious world of construction, the Garman Homes team seeks to create the best possible experience for both the customer and the building team.  They seem to have hit on a winning formula: seek to create a partnership and don’t be afraid to be specific about expectations from both the builder and the homebuyer.

The most important thing about a contract is that it demands something from both parties.  It extends a promise in exchange for another promise, and is supported by specific action (or “consideration” in legal terms).  The language of the contract keeps both parties honest, while laying out what is to be expected throughout the transaction.

What if we were to create a “good attitude” contract between coaches and families at the beginning of the season?

Here are a few ideas, and we’d love to hear your comments and additions:

At ______________ Volleyball Club, We believe that we have a most important responsibility to partner with You, parents, in helping raise your child.  We believe that the only way that We can effectively help You raise Your child is by both parties agreeing to act with mutual respect and appreciation.

We know that the upcoming season will include some wins and some failures, that every player will not be able to play as much as they want and where they want, and that We will make some coaching decisions that will not be successful.

In those inevitable moments of potential disappointment, You and We will react in a positive manner because it is the best response for Your children to witness.  Both parties will allow space for each party to be the best version of themselves [Growth Clause], will always assume that the actions of the other party are initiated with best intentions [Optimism Clause], will understand that errors will be made by You and Us, both of whom are human [Forgiveness Clause], and will always endeavor to leave the other party happier at the end of every interaction [Joy Clause].

You love your children, and We do too.  Therefore, both parties promise that:

We You
will react to disappointment with professionalism, kindness and positivity will be open-minded about the learning process and embrace adversity for our children
will understand that families are doing their best to attend practices and games and will seek to decrease to a family’s scheduling stress by being empathetic, patient and kind about tardiness and absences will be patient with schedule changes and endeavor to bring my child to practice with more than a full stomach and necessary equipment: they will come armed with gratitude, optimism, openness and joy.
will continue to challenge our players by giving them opportunities to stretch and grow, especially when they struggle or fail will bring cheerfulness and kindness to the bleachers at games, and will extend genuine hospitality and welcome to other parents
will always build up and encourage players and families through conversations with other coaches will always build up and encourage all players and coaches through conversations with other parents
will cheerfully conduct ourselves as exemplary role models and supporters for our players will consistently enjoy and appreciate the sacrifice of supporting our children in athletics
will treat my players and opponents as if they were someone’s child (which, incidentally, they are) will treat my child’s teammates and opponents as if they were someone’s child (which, incidentally, they are)

Leading With Vision

Last week, I wrote about the importance of vision in a post titled, “What You Will Become.” Jason Curtis then wrote “Growing Trees” in which he describes the role leaders should play in the lives and the development of young coaches and teachers. It got me thinking in a practical way about how coaches, teachers, parents, and leaders can model, encourage, and collaborate with one another to change the atmosphere and ultimately the impact that participation in sports can have on the lives of young people.

Here are a few examples of statements I have heard over the years and how teachers, coaches, parents, and leaders with vision can change the narrative and perspective.

She can’t.” A coach with vision replies, “yet.

I give up.” A parent with vision encourages, “stick with it.

It’s his fault.” A leader with vision states, “let’s do this together.

It’s over.” A teacher with vision inquires “when can we start again?

We did it!” A leader with vision questions, “what’s next?

Where can I hide?” A friend with vision pleads, “where can we go?

We made too many mistakes.” A coach with vision wonders, “what did we learn?

That’s not fair.” A parent with vision answers, “how will you respond?

It’s mine.” A teammate with vision corrects, “it’s ours.

That’s impossible.” A teacher with vision answers, “what a great challenge.

We need this.” A leader with vision compels, “let’s give this.

It’s too late.” A mentor with vision exclaims, “it’s the perfect time to start.

There is no way.” A coach with vision begs, “what is possible?

We’re no good.” A leader with vision implores, “how can we get better?

-Mike Schall

Growing Trees

Finally, for the first time in my coaching career, I’m considered “above average.”

At last night’s season kickoff meeting we learned that the average age of coaches in our club is 34, firmly throwing me into the “above the average” category.

(Sigh)

Years ago, while hiring for a coaching position we interviewed a young candidate who had talent and potential, but did not have much experience.  When I brought up my concern about her lack of experience to a colleague who had participated in the interview he replied, “I’m sure she’ll make many of the same mistakes you and I both made when we were new coaches.” He added, “We should definitely hire her.”

I felt a sudden rush of gratitude for the many coaching colleagues and administrators who had patiently mentored me, supported me as I made many, many mistakes, and encouraged me during those times when it got difficult.

Thank goodness they had been willing to hire me and introduce me to this wonderful calling, despite knowing that I would make those errors.  I only wish I had thought to thank them at that time.

NFL observers talk about “coaching trees,” referring to a group of former assistants who spend time with a legendary coach and bring their offensive or defensive schemes to teams when they move on.  Legends such as Bill Walsh and Tom Landry influenced a large number of assistants who went on to become head coaches throughout the NFL.

All of my mentors and colleagues had each, in their own way, welcomed me into their “coaching tree.”  While they transferred knowledge about drills, game-planning, and technical correction, they also taught me about better ways to care for my players, how establish relationships with parents, and why I needed to give back to the sport.  Whether or not they knew it at the time, I became a part of their legacy and contribution to the sport – their “coaching tree.”

We are all coaches together – the head coach of our rival team, the eager assistant, the volunteer parent coach, the confident rookie, and the veteran with too many stories about the “good ol’ days” – all of us are connected to a part of someone’s coaching tree.

That tree’s continued growth and health is up to us.

If we’ve coached for one season or twenty years, we each have something to offer all of these coaches who are starting out.  The next generation of players is counting on us to grow our coaching trees into healthy forests of coaches who will be dedicated to coaching our grandchildren.

Start this season by reaching out to other coaches, especially those new coaches, by trying the following:

  • Find the new coach in the tournament coaches’ meeting (they’re the ones frantically deciphering the schedule) and offer help and encouragement throughout the day.
  • Stop by a new coaches’ practice and give them a compliment about one of their drills.
  • Talk to their team’s parents and tell them about something special you see in their coach.
  • Pass along a favorite article or book.
  • Write them a note pointing out something specific that you like about their coaching.
  • Quietly mention to their student-athletes that they’re fortunate to have such a talented, committed coach.
  • Bring your team to one of their tournament matches or practices to cheer on the players and the coach.
  • Encourage them to speak up at a coaches’ meeting, and ask for their opinion during impromptu discussions about technical skills.
  • Let them run a drill demo, speak at a coaching clinic, or write a blog post for your club’s website.
  • Find that new coach at the end of the tournament day, compliment them on their work that day, and tell them you’re looking forward to seeing them at the next tournament.

And to those brave souls who took a chance on a young coach, thank you.  I’m sorry that I didn’t always think to express my gratitude at the time, but I promise to do my best to pass it along and take care of the “tree.”

-Jason Curtis

What You Will Become

I had the honor of speaking to our coaching staff last evening about establishing a vision for the season – personally (as a coach) and collectively (as a team). So critical is our role as coaches to see what the collective ‘we’ will become.

To be clear, vision has nothing to do with goals. We all want to win. In fact, throughout my coaching, teaching, speaking opportunities, I have often asked those listening a simple question – would you rather win or lose? Without fail, those responding answered ‘win.’ To me, as a coach, leader, or parent, vision is far more important – and also far more difficult to develop – than a list of goals. Vision forces one to see something that isn’t there yet.

The most powerful vision I have been a part of was the experience our family went through when our youngest child Mia was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss just after her first birthday. In the ensuing months of uncertainty after her original diagnosis, my wife Sarah and I arrived at a meeting with Dr. Oliver Adunka at UNC Children’s Hospital. Dr. Adunka sat Sarah and I down and explained to us very calmly, “The vision we share is perfect hearing and perfect speech for this child. We are not sure exactly how we will get there but we must remain committed to that vision.”

In that moment, while still concerned, unsure of the exact path we would take, and faced with the uncertainty of how Mia would respond to the treatment, we were given confidence in what was to come. Below are a few reasons our hearts and minds shifted on that day:

  • A vision was shared. Dr. Adunka, when explaining what he saw for Mia, committed to working with us to help the vision become a reality.
  • We partnered with someone who had the experience, confidence, and maturity that went beyond our emotion and feelings of uncertainty in the present.
  • It gave us hope and a glimpse of what was possible – something we could not yet see.

We have this opportunity as coaches. Regardless of the age or level of team, the beginnings of a season are filled with questions surrounding roles, opportunities, and experience. Casting a vision with your team allows everyone involved to build confidence on what is possible vs living in the uncertainty of the present.

My encouragement to coaches everywhere is to be Dr. Adunka to the lives of the young people, their parents, and the teams they are responsible for leading. Here are several thoughts and questions to help coaches cast a vision for their teams:

  • Have a picture in your mind, as the coach, of all that your team can become, what positive behaviors they will exhibit, and the possibilities that this experience can provide. Kids and their parents often can’t see that picture yet.
  • What are the qualities of the very best teams?
  • Five years from now, how do you want to remember this season?
  • If someone were to watch your team play at the end of the season, what would you want them to say?
  • What does your team look like, sound like, feel like when you are collectively performing at your very best?

Enjoy the opportunity to coach your team to the very best of your ability, to see in them what they are unable to see in the present, and inspire them to get there. By the way, our shared vision for Mia has already become a reality. Five years after the vision was cast, two cochlear implant surgeries later, hundreds of hours of therapy with selfless teachers and therapists, a determined child has begun first grade. In speaking and interacting with Mia, one would never know that she ever had an issue with hearing or speaking. Vision is a powerful tool to bring reality to that which is unseen in the present.

-Mike Schall