In the waning moments of the Muleicorns’ 2-1 championship match victory – on my birthday, no less – I took a seat on the bench. To apologize.
That’s where one of my favorite players, Brittney, sat, most of the second half. In the flurry of activity of a scoreless half in a hotly-contested championship, I’d failed to recognize Brittney hadn’t gotten back into the game after we’d subbed her out.
“It’s OK coach, really,” she said with a smile that let me know she meant it.
I failed to give her a chance. She said she was happy to play on a winning team with girls she loved and a coach she kind of did, too. It was important to me to give her a chance to play. More than a chance. Many chances. And a chance to love this game a little more.
Whether it’s a discussion of safety on roads, a politically incorrect view on participatory trophies, or good sportsmanship, Michelle knows her way around the other sideline. I wish all my soccer parents could take a class from Michelle.
Today, she’s here with a simple theme – it’s only a game. Look, I want to win every match we play in. I have designs on Marie’s team winning a championship next Monday – on my birthday. We coach to win.
But we also have to acknowledge that winning isn’t only what’s done on Saturday mornings: It’s how we prepare our kids for life, by checking our tempers and keeping the game in perspective.