Peelstar Decals: A Cool Alternative to Season-Ending Trophies

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

My girls are awesome in their element. When I played sports, I had an element, too. It was called the bench.

My girls don’t spend too much time in my element. Ask my parents. Hey, there’s my boy. Him, the one with the bat in his hand. No, not at the plate. No, not on deck. He’s the one balancing a Gatorade cup on the end of his bat.

I could hope for junk time, though. There’s always hope for junk time.

Continue reading “Peelstar Decals: A Cool Alternative to Season-Ending Trophies”

Sometimes, it’s Back to the Drawing Board – Even for the Coach

My heart didn’t give out Sunday night.

My deodorant definitely did.

See, when Matt Prater’s kick sailed through the uprights to give my Denver Broncos a stomach churning 51-48 victory against the Dallas Cowboys, my pulse could finally start a slow decline. For a coach, it’s sometimes tougher on the ticker to watch a team you love, but don’t coach.

What a weekend.

It included a day hot as skillet and packed with three straight soccer games. (Guess who wore a black polo shirt on the sideline for the 85-degree day?). Those three soccer games included:

  • A gritty 2-0 victory for Marie’s unbeaten Muleicorns (really their name!)
  • A 2-2 tie for Elise’s Dragons (with no substitutes for either team!)
  • A 7-1 loss for Grace’s Dynamite (against a team we beat 2-0 on opening day)

Emotionally drained and slightly sunburned at midnight Saturday, I watched my alma mater, UNC Charlotte, fall behind by 21 points in the fourth quarter in a game I DVRed, only to rally for 29 points in a 53-51 victory against nationally-ranked Gardner-Webb.

So, that’s 109-108, good guys, if you’re keeping track at home. (With goals from each of my girls!)

That luckily doesn’t include the pretend butt-kickin’ my fantasy team, the Sun City Skunk Kings, are currently enduring at the hands of my brother-in-laws’ team, the Steepleton Silverbacks.

Here’s the thing, though: This lineup isn’t unusual for a typical weekend.

As head coach to one soccer team, assistant to two more, owner of a fantasy team, supporter of an NFL team and alumnus of a school playing its first season of football, I’m used to tons of games between Saturday morning and Sunday night. Wins, losses, ties, goals and heartbreaks.

What I’m not used to is losing my cool.

My composure.

My perspective.

And my edge.

# # #

I’m the coach who says winning will take care of itself. Then, more times than not, wins anyway.

It’s years of experience. It’s always keeping the kids first, not just saying that’s what I believe. It’s an emphasis of effort over outcome, teamwork over titles. A love for your teammates. And the game. Don’t worry about what the opponent is doing, I say. Worry about what your team is.

But as goals piled up against Grace’s Dynamite … 3-0, 4-0, 5-0 … the coach who usually watches the game with arms folded, hand on a chin sometimes, processing, assessing, adjusting … well, he had nothing. Nothing but exasperation, frustration, and unflattering demonstration.

Not nearly enough imagination, explanation or affirmation.

As the Dynamite wilted in their pink jerseys under harsh sunrays and an opponent that sensed their weakness, my coaching philosophy shriveled, too. Lost were lessons to be found in adversity, that thought that a child’s mental musculature will flex when they’re tasked with finding a way to fight back.

Instead, I wrote them – and myself – off. At 2-0.

# # #

The discomfort of my degradation on field 1 that day lacked the clarity I needed to make sense of it, during, and immediately after.

When Grace, usually a wellspring of heart and scoring opportunities, asked to be taken out of the game, moved back to defense, I questioned her. “Why? What’s wrong with you?”

“Why won’t you help us?”

When Grace and her teammates retreated, flat-footed, as the spirited opponent beat them to every ball, I wondered out loud what was going on.


The blue team isn’t walking!

“Dad,” Grace answered. “We’re walking because we’re tired.”

# # #

At halftime, I like to stand alone for a minute or two. Let the kids guzzle Gatorade and put away the Powerade, talk it over on their own, then join the fray and give a couple of points before the second half. This day, I stood on the field with my assistants, indignant, speechless, disconnected.

I don’t remember what we told the team, but they went out in the second half to a worsening outcome. I gritted my teeth. I walked away from the bench.

What can I do?

I gazed at the sky, wondering what dad must think of his son right now.

The team sat silent afterward, cookies and juice packs distributed.

Still, I had nothing.

I kept my eyes on the ground at my feet, the tension of parents and players waiting for answers, for hope, for perspective, for something.

“Bring it in,” I told my Dynamite. “I’ll see you at practice on Tuesday.”

Where was the knowledge? Where was the hope? Where were the words that could have given some indication I had an answer, a direction to turn, a way to make a lesson of the mess we left behind?

I imagined the coaches I admired most – Mike Shanahan, Bill Walsh, John Wooden. What would they have done?

UNC Charlotte coaches, when fate looked grim late in the game, told their players, “be at your best when your best is needed.” I could have said that to my Dynamite, right?

I could have listened to that advice, too.

# # #

This is youth soccer, after all. Not life or death.

But the lessons … I take them seriously.

The kids will forget the scores. They’ll forget the standings. What I hope is that 10, 20, 30 years from now, they’ll remember the lessons.

That’s why, as soon as I’m done writing here, I’ll open a fresh page on a tattered notebook. I’ll turn past notes from Saturday.

I’ll make a new plan.

With an old philosophy.

Because right now, it’s 0-0 again.

And I take heart in that.

5 For Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Kitty Doodoo, Hebrew Day School and Aye! Chihuahuas!

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc
photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

Most of my Go Ask Daddy questions come from the most diminutive kid in the triumvirate. It’s that raising third-grade mentality, at work.

There’s a question in this batch, though, that came from the 12-year-old. And it came as a result of a second (or was it third?) go-through of a Redbox DVD – “Parental Guidance,” with Billy Crystal. (Well, not with Billy Crystal. He was just in the movie).

A restaurant host in a pan-Asian restaurant called Healthy Tiger spoke about what made him pan-Asian also.

“I’m Chinese,” he proclaims with arms wide, “my wife’s Japanese, my kids are Korean, and they go to Hebrew Day School! Oy!”

I guess you’ll recognize her question below. Sorry for outing you, Marie. At least I don’t take you to Healthy Tiger, where everything is gluten-free, fat-free, and … taste-free.

1. How do cats know how to go in the litter box?

Do they? The evidence against it: The occasional dusty Tootsie rolls we find on the carpet.

Most cats don’t have such issues. And most kitties don’t have mama around to show them the secrets of the sand. It’s the same force of nature that lets a flying squirrel fly, a Chihuahua annoy, and a dodgers fan … act like a Chihuahua. Humans aren’t nearly as adept at this as the rest of nature.

(I’m sadly pleased with myself for referencing litter boxes and the dodgers in the same post.)

2. If you ran over a box of matches, would it catch on fire?

Grace, I know you wanted me to answer this question in the real world when you saw that box of matches spilled on the road – and I should have peeled out on them to see for myself.

Because the match would simply mush between the tire and road, it’s unlikely it would light on fire. Plus, unless you’re in the tread of the tire, you wouldn’t have oxygen, a key agent in fire. I envision a peel-out, all Starsky & Hutch style, our only bet for fire. And not a very good one.

If we see any more matches on the road, we’re so going to find out.

3. What is a Hebrew Day School?

Weren’t they on your school’s soccer schedule this season? Pretty sure we beat them 7-0.

A Hebrew day school is a Jewish school, first of all. Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School celebrates in 2013 50 years of excellence. You know how you girls excel when you’re in a comfort zone, with kids you share a lot in common with? That’s the idea behind a school like this, and it seems to work.

Even, cinematically, if you’re pan-Asian.

4. What does the heart on your license mean?

It means I get free steak every Friday.

I wish. It means I’m an organ donor. This is a one-time deal. And you might have to help me on this one. I hope you don’t ever have to. Or, if you do, it’s in 2113. Here’s the plan: If I should die in such a way that doctors could transplant my organs to save someone else’s life, they have my permission.

It’s only for life-saving operations, in my case. I choose not to donate my body to science. Although, there will probably be interest in my brain, to compare to other early primates. Hope they don’t get them mixed up.

5. Is there such a thing as a nice Chihuahua?

Depends on how far I can throw it.

I kid, I kid. Although, the little bugger who decided to snap at me just as I wound up to throw on No. 17 at the Eager Beaver disc golf course recently – and made me toss my disc into the thicket – could probably sail 30, 40 feet with the right crosswinds and a healthy windup. Theoretically.

Just like on the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” these little yippy dogs get along best with their own kind, which is fine with me. They can colonize in the Mazatlan peninsula, far away from the disc golf course. They won’t bother you, me, or any of the nice kids at the Hebrew Day School.

If your cats leave any more dusty Tootsie rolls around, they might wind up joining them.