At nine years old, the prospect of a baseball practice or game filled Tyler* with anticipation. By 16, the zeal for his favourite sport had waned thanks to a seven-year-long rift with one of his teammates. Although he continued to be recognized as one of the team’s top players, Tyler’s sense of achievement was dampened by what he perceived as constant negative comments from his teammate. Feeling inadequate, Tyler grew increasingly sullen and became less engaged with the other players. At home after games, he often had angry outbursts over seemingly insignificant things.
The conflict reached a boiling point when the teammates, also high school peers, came to blows following an argument at school.
Tyler’s parents had spoken to a string of coaches about the situation—but little changed. Asking CJI for help was a last-ditch attempt to rekindle the joy of playing baseball in their son’s life and prevent him from quitting.
During a meeting with CJI facilitators to help him prepare for the mediation, Tyler was anything but hopeful. He fought back tears as he expressed sadness as well as anger and bitterness. At one point, convinced that the mediation would ultimately fail, he hinted at revenge.
The boys met, although reluctantly, along with the team’s coach, who attended to listen and offer support. For the first time in seven years they were given a safe place to be truly heard and to discuss issues without interruption. With no outside interference and no gossip from peers, the boys found common ground and exchanged sincere apologies. In less than an hour the young men, shook hands and expressed confidence that their seven-year rift was over.