It’s cool to find your tribe.
Even if you just hear about them. I recently wrote 11 questions for a youth soccer coach. Quietly, I don’t officially have a team for this fall. It’s the first time since Swedish tennis player Anna Holmstrom finished fourth in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.
So, it’s been a while.
I wrote the questions for the next generation of youth soccer coaches. Dudes with accents and pointy hair and fantastic calves tend to infiltrate the sidelines of those of us out of Generation X, we of graying roofs and middle-age spread.
Today’s guest post comes from Sandra, of Momma’s View.
See, she lives with the kind of coach I’m honored to share this affliction with. A kind man, an excitable man, a guy who both believes and forgives. He’s the kind of coach you’d want your kids to have. and Sandra’s the kind of writer you’d want your blog to have.
Please give her a warm CD welcome.
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“Your life will change. How much depends on you. It’ll force early hair loss, or high blood pressure, perhaps. Or, it will reveal character and strength you never knew existed. As with baptism and circumcision, it could go really well, or really, really badly – as an adult.
Seriously, few things in this life will stir your soul like coaching your kid in soccer.”
Hi there, I’m Momma, and I’m a soccer mom. I’m also the coach’s wife. And here’s what I have to say about it:
I couldn’t agree more with Eli. What I witnessed over the last 3 soccer seasons backs up everything Eli mentioned in his 11 Essential Questions for Every Youth Soccer Coach. It has not only changed my daughter’s and my husband’s lives, but my son’s and mine as well. I learned a lot in the three seasons my daughter has played soccer now. Well, actually 2¼ as she is in her third season now.
I saw a group of girls who have not known each other and who have never played soccer bond and develop skills. I’ve watched a team of little girls who thought soccer was all about crowding the ball shape into a team that spreads out on the pitch, understands the positions and techniques as well as 9 year olds can. I watched them grow and coming from being the underdog to being the dominator.
Not only did I see my daughter and the other girls grow and develop. I saw my husband change too. As much as he made the girls better soccer players, better team players, they also made him an even better person.
I saw him spend countless hours preparing the training sessions, making sure that he could find a way to teach the skills to a group of little girls without making it boring. I saw him prepare the sessions, making sure that they would have fun. I saw him prepare the sessions in a way they could understand what it was all about. I saw him find a way to make them understand what it’s about to play in a team.
“No lectures. No lines. No laps. Every kid with a ball. Tag isn’t bad. Your job is simple: Play games that teach the kids to play and love soccer. It’s not at all easy. But it’s fun as hell.”
I watched him for countless hours, standing in the rain, fighting against the cold, wishing I could go home. But he was there. With a group of giggling girls, having fun teaching them all the skills needed. I watched him chasing them and being chased. I watched him demonstrate what they need to do. I watched them listen to him not talking while he was explaining something. I saw them giggle and socialize while they are doing what he wanted them to do. I saw it click!
“Anxious? That’s normal. Pissed as hell that you lost again? Not cool. The kids will remember your joy when they score. They’ll never forget how you treat them when they get scored on.”
I watched him during the games, making sure they each got to play an equal amount of time. I watched him looking after them when they were crying because they got kicked. I saw him lifting them up when they were disappointed. I watched him high-five them when they scored. Yes, I saw him disappointed after a loss. Disappointed because he felt he didn’t support the girls enough.
I heard him cheer, I heard him firing them on. I heard him telling them what they did right. I heard him praise them, pointing out the good things they’ve done. Never have I ever heard him say something negative to them. I saw him get girls who were shy and almost disappeared on the pitch mastering every skill you possibly need not being pushed around anymore and turning into the key players.
I often heard him say, that a team is only as good as its weakest player.
“Some will baffle you with signs of indifference. Do not leave them behind. It’s your job to teach the concept of team. Every player needs every player. Show them this.”
I watch the girls now and what I see is a unit. A unit that loves spending time together. A unit that loves playing soccer together. A unit that loves doing handstands and cartwheels. I see a team.
A team starts with the players, players who have a fantastic attitude. In our case being a team also means that the parents are included and back them up.
“You’re in charge of their kids; respect them and listen. You’re in charge of their kids; don’t let them push you around. Smile at the praise, forget the harsh words, and concentrate on the kids.”
When my husband said yes to coach the girls we had no clue about how much we all would gain from it. Not only did my daughter find a big group of new fantastic friends but so did we. We found a group of parents that support not only their girls but also the coach. A group of parents that are involved without being involved (if that makes sense). We gained a group of friends who enjoy what they’re seeing.
Watching the girls now makes me proud. It makes me proud of them because they came a long way. It makes me proud of them because they are truly a team. They are there for each other. They support and carry each other. They giggle and play and chat. They play soccer as a team and they socialize as a team. It makes me proud of them because even if they lose and play badly, they still leave the pitch happy, because they had a great time and enjoyed playing soccer. It makes me proud seeing them build up their game, pass and score and win. It makes me proud to see how fair they play, with respect for the game and their opponents. Watching my daughter’s team train and play not only makes me proud of them.
It makes me incredibly proud of my husband too.
It makes me proud to hear the other parents talking about him full of praise. It makes me proud to see how the girls react, how much they look forward to training nights and the games. It makes me proud to see how he focuses on every single one of them, always highlighting the good and in doing so building up their confidence.
But even if I tell him, he is not taking credit for it. For him it’s always been and will always be about the girls. He is right, they are fantastic. But it takes a special person too, to support a group of little girls to this point. It takes a special person who gets a girl who could not kick a ball without falling over to score her very first goal. It takes a special person who gets girls who cannot sit still to remember your words weeks after you said them, because they mattered to them.
It takes a special person to be a good youth soccer coach…