Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I am a soccer coach.
I got a phone call one fateful evening two years ago that went like this,
"Um, I'm calling from the Northshore Soccer League. Your daughter's team currently has no coach. Would you be interested in coaching? You put down on the form that you'd be interested in volunteering. If you say no, we'll probably have to disband the team."
"Oh. Well. OK, I guess."
My first game as coach, we lost to the Blasters, 11-1. Ouch. But, that was last year. We're worlds ahead this year. The girls have all grown like 2 inches. I can't wait to PULVERIZE those Blasters this year!!!! I mean, it's all about the fun of the game, not the score.........
Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I do my best to teach 10 nine year old girls how to play the game. I bring cones and balls and drills and, on good days, lots of patience. There are good practices and bad ones. Uplifting moments, and moments where I want to make the team run forever, just to get back at them for their inability to process directions.
Every kid on the team is unique. Every girl brings her own set of baggage or developmental stage to the field. Every week I choose a new team captain, based on which player has shown improvement or heart, not necessarily on which is the most skilled. They get to wear an arm band for the week, lead team cheers, and help me with the lineup on game day.
The first week, I chose "M." Purely because she never complains. Never ever. She runs, she tries her best and she's always joyful about the process. Absolutely captain-worthy qualities.
The second week, I chose "O." This is her first year of soccer. She's never kicked a ball before 4 weeks ago. She was initially a bit complainy about the heat, or about the warm-up lap. But, our first game brought out the fierce animal that had been lurking inside. She SCORED a GOAL in her first game and grew fangs.
This week, I chose "G." In practice she was terrified of chest traps. I'd toss a ball for her to trap and she's shirk away in terror, guarding her face. At our game last week, she flew through the air, trapping any old ball that came her way. She showed that ball just WHO was BOSS.
I love the look on the girls' faces when they receive the Team Captain award. They feel prized, honored, PROUD. And, they rise to the occasion. They lead, they don't complain, and they try even harder.
Stay tuned for more tales of the FIREDOGS!!!!!!! We'd be happy to star in a motion picture or documentary....