What One Soccer Coach Included On His Wish List Might Shock You

wish list lede
It’s kind of like a soccer sideline, but really, it’s the towel rack at the Acorn Motel in Black Mountain, N.C. Nice place.

I’ll get it out of the way, first.

As a soccer coach, I’d love it if the tradition of root beer and a Cubano sandwich became post-game routine. I know that won’t happen, unless I make it work for myself. (Coaches who maintain a set approval rating could upgrade to cold beer and a Monte Cristo.)

Here’s 42 reasonable (and some unreasonable) items on this coach’s wish list.

field number
photo credit: city soccer via photopin (license)

1. Fields numbers you can see.

2. Different color paint to line the fields. I get tired of white. No offense.

3. A chemical compound to eliminate the smell of shin guards and cleats.

4. A chemical compound to eliminate the smell of shin guards and cleats that have been left in dad’s trunk or backseat for a weekend.

5. A new bag to carry my stuff in that has a shoulder strap.

6. An automated shoe dryer I can put my feet into when I’ve soaked up all the dew on the sideline on my Nikes for an 8 a.m. kickoff.

lucky socks

7. A fresh set of socks for days like that, when I have more than one game to coach or watch.

8. Coaching gear that takes off 12 pounds.

9. An official ball hat for my school.

10. A sound-proof barrier between my sideline and the one behind me (I always draw the grounds right behind the loudest dude at the club.)

11. A similar sound-proof barrier between parents and the kids on the field.

12. A filter for that barrier that lets in encouragement and cheering, but blocks out parental barking of phrases such as “be aggressive!” and telling them what to do strategically.

photo credit: Wait.. how do I work this thing? via photopin (license)

13. A money jar that collects a dollar from parents each time they try to coach. (I’ll buy the whole team Monte Cristos.)

14. Referees that I can be friends with. These are rare.

15. Referees who truly understand the laws of the game. If I could get this, I could live without No. 13.

16. Opposing coaches I can be friends with. These also are rare.

17. Opposing coaches who truly understand the laws of the game.

18. Opposing coaches who don’t forget we’re there for the kids, not the other way around.

photo credit: DSC06798 via photopin (license)

19. Instant replay screens. Even for the U6s. Especially for the U6s.

20. More night games, under the lights.

21. Announcers for these games.

22. A force field that won’t allow players to leave the field until they’ve picked up all their fruit snack wrappers and Gatorade bottles.

23. An unlimited supply of snacks and G2 in my favorite flavors.

24. A mascot.

new cleats
photo credit: 223/366 – A Hobby via photopin (license)

25. Matching cleats for the whole team.

26. Self-cleaning pennies that always smell like Mexican vanilla or fresh tortillas.

27. Fresh tortillas for Coach.

28. Warmups for the kids. True, they’ll probably leave them at the field and I’ll end up picking them up, but how cool?

29. A statistician.

30. One Silent Saturday per season. Ever had one of those? No words from the parents sideline. Also, from the coaches’.

photo credit: IMG_8724 via photopin (license)

31. More than one silent Saturday. Not every Saturday but almost. In this case, only coaches can talk.

32. Road trips for the little players. Take a ton of U7s or such and bus them to another state for a weekend.

33. I’d even drive the bus.

34. Let’s go overseas. Let’s give more opportunities for more experiences. We’ll stay with host families.

35. A three-goal rule for goalkeepers. If it’s not your day, and a kid gives up three goals, you get a sub.

36. An actual sub sandwich for a keeper who gives up three goals in a game.

sub with bacon
photo credit: Three Cheeses and Bacon – Ah via photopin (license)

37. A sub for his coach, too – with bacon.

38. Regular snacks and meals for coaches so when they create a wish-list of 42 items, 40 of them aren’t food-related.

39. Players taught to compete fiercely, who also respect the game and their opponents just as fiercely.

40. A lounge for parents during training sessions. It’ll have sleep pods, fiber Wi-Fi, and bar food and light cocktails. (75% discount for my favorite parents.)

41. Medics at every field for every match. Every. Match.

42. An enormous party at a park on a 70-degree day in Carolina in which all my players drop by wearing the jersey of the team I coached them in. This will be pot luck, of course.

coach list quote



  1. stomperdad says:

    Great list… love all the food. Coaches need to eat. Makes me wish I could go to my high school alumni game and see my coaches from 20 years ago. You’re giving me the itch to coach again!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Eric. A coach gotta eat, so a coach oughta eat well. You should go to that game. And you’ll be coaching before you know it with those boys.

      1. stomperdad says:

        I would totally go to that game if it wasn’t 1100 mile away (literally). It’s looking probable that I might be coaching baseball next summer… We’ll see.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        It’ll change your life, hoss.

  2. I love your list! But now I’m really hungry.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Susan! I was hungry before, during, and after writing that post.

      And now.

  3. mocadeaux says:

    Both of my kids played soccer from age 4 through freshman year of high school. They enjoyed it but never enough to move from AYSO into the travel league. Year after year I was appalled at the behavior of some of the parents on the sidelines. On behalf of soccer parents everywhere, I apologize for those wackadoodles and say a great big thank you to coaches everywhere.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I hope your kids’ experience in the beautiful game was good, Mo. I remember showing up to the grounds early and watching the very little kids play, just to remind me that the game is much simpler and pure than we often make it out to be.

      I’ve been blessed with far more parents who want the best for their children and set the good example for behavior. The wackadoodles are there, but they’re the outliers

      1. mocadeaux says:

        My kids loved their soccer years. And my son, as you know, continues to be a devoted fan of the game.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Your son gets a prime spot at my table, Mo. I appreciate him sticking up for my boo. I mean, Hope Solo.

  4. John Holton says:

    Hey, for #3 and 4, have you tried Febreze?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      These shin guards snatch the Febreze out of our hands, and figuratively bust them over their knees, John.

      1. John Holton says:

        That bad, huh? XD

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        For this sort of thing, John, the difference between tolerable and horrible is inconsequential.

  5. Lulu says:

    Man, if you could invent a compound to eliminate the smell of shinguards and cleats, you could definitely upgrade to beer and then retire! If you could invent those soundproof barriers, you could retire to a mansion with servants to bring your beer to you! I’m reminded of this dad who came to a friend’s field hockey game in high school once. More than 15 years ago, we all still remember him as “Score now!” Guy, because every time the ball was on their half of the field he would start barking “Score now! Score now!” over and over with so much ferocity it was both scary and comical at the same time. I gotta hand it to coaches, you have to put up with a lot! Great list!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      They might even name the cheesedog portion of the concession stand in my honor, Lu. If soundproof barriers prove ineffective, I’m not above installing super-soakers to tamp down the droves.

      I think some parents just don’t realize how silly they look and sound. Or how distracting they are. I say nothing, just observe.

      we do put up with a lot, we coaches, but the rewards? Those are incredibly incredible, Lulu. Incredibly so.

      1. Lulu says:

        I would volunteer to be a super-soaker enforcer for you!
        Just yesterday, I was watching my friend’s five year-old son at soccer practice with all the other preschool-aged kids of their town, and it was a funny sight. It was also fun to think that one of those kids who was tripping and flopping around the field might grow up to be a really great player, but even if none of them do, they were all having fun, and so was the coach. I give the coach a ton of credit for keeping 15 four and five year-olds busy with soccer balls for 45 minutes!
        Hope your week is ending well and your weekend get off to a good start!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        The best thing at that age is to make sure the kids have a blast – and there’s fun games to ‘trick’ them into developing skills along the way (shh.)

      3. Lulu says:

        Your secret is safe! 😉

  6. amommasview says:

    Love your list!!! So in regards to #3 and #4 may I suggest you use either Tea Tree Oil or Eucalyptus oil in a water spray bottle (10 drops for approx 1/2 litre will do). Both of them kill stinky germs… It helps, believe me! Soccer gear, Taekwondo gear… no more stink…

    I’m in charge of the Girls Only teams U7-11 at the Club my daughter plays and let me tell you what I would add to your list: Girls teams being treated like the boys teams… oh, and an operations guy who actually does the work he gets paid for (while all of us are volunteers of course…)…

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks! I’ve heard tea tree oil can do *anything*. It’s not that the girls’ stuff is extraordinarily stinky – it’s just the nature of the beast.

      I know it’s not like this everywhere, but girl women’s soccer team at Elise’s college is treated like top dogs. Same for the club teams my other two girls play for.

      It helps that the USWNT makes America look like a women’s soccer kind of country.

      1. amommasview says:

        We all look over to the States. You are so far ahead in regards to women’s soccer. And yes, tea tree oil and also eucalyptus oil do magic. Believe me. The Taekwondo stink of a teenage boy is… (I’m out of words…)… and it manages to kill the stink. Try it. Just make sure they wipe it too after you sprayed it or don’t spray it before they put it on…

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I’d like to tie up all the gear in a mesh bag and drag it behind the car, honestly

      3. Eli Pacheco says:

        I feel like I might be exaggerating by a degree or 17.

  7. Kisma says:

    This is a great list! What would your perfect mascot be coach?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Tiffany! The best mascot would be a big-ass purple hungry hound dog. What do you think?

  8. pilch92 says:

    Great list, #4 is a hoot 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You can drive the car next time.

  9. dishofdailylife says:

    When my husband was coaching soccer, he was friendly with quite a few of the coaches he coached against. I’m sure there were a few nut jobs (there always are, and in the stands too). I hated Silent Saturday. It’s fun to cheer. I know they want to stop the negativity but its really hard to be whisper “yay” when the kids do something really great. LOL Of course I never liked those parents who’d yell stupid things like “get him off the field” or “take him out (meaning go after a kid on another team).” Do they think that makes the kid feel better to be yelled at like that? And how do they think the parent of the kid they just told their kid to go after feels? I’ve heard both of those. In the second case, it was my son’s friend who the dad was yelling at his kid to take out and we happened to be standing very close to him. My friend went right up to him and said “that is my son you’re telling your son to take out!” Parents can be ridiculous. That guy was a world class jerk and should have been escorted to the parking lot.

    Anyway, my husband is coaching track now, and it is totally different. He is friends with so many of the coaches and they talk among themselves with advice. It’s very cool. And even though you’re cheering for your own team, you’re also cheering for the kids you know from other teams. The kids do the same. They become friends with kids they run against and you see them cheering for them when they’re not in the same race and also congratulating each other after races. What a difference.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’d rather have friends out there, Michelle. I just coached a match before which the opposing team asked us to the middle to pray together. I don’t mind that. However, once the whistle blew, the mood went decidedly un-gospel-like.

      I’ve written before of dads grumbling angrily at their girls not being able to score on Elise. Of dads yelling to boys, “she’s just a girl!” of Grace. “Take her out!” I’ve had to tune out other calls to hurt my girls, because I know that’s dumb fans talking, and that most players (most!) won’t take it that far.

      Track (and cross country) are cool for that. You’re competing against yourself, essentially, and other runners from other schools are there to push you. There’s a sisterhood (and brotherhood) to it that I love.

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