This is a busy week as they all have been recently. I am once again the head coach for the boys’ soccer team at the local middle school. I coached in previous years, in large part, because Isaac was a player on the team and I enjoyed watching he and his friends play and leading them to do their best. This year I am coaching just because I enjoy coaching. I still like to lead the boys to do their best and I certainly don’t mind winning games. We are currently 6-0-0, a record in which the team and I both share a lot of pride.
It’s a lot different coaching the team without one of my kids playing. I really enjoy seeing my own kids playing hard and doing their best to work together with friends to win a game. I like seeing how they interact with their friends in a more direct way than one might get from casual interactions. It’s also a little weird having to be careful to ride the line just right so as to be the adult, but not embarrass my kids too badly. Without a kid on the team, I still get to see (in this case) young men grow up, learn to work together, and struggle with coolness and girls and parents and all the fun things related to middle school. I don’t have to worry so much about embarrassing my kids anymore though…that part is pretty cool. Still, I reprimand them as they try out their new “adult words” and I try to show them restraint and civility.
Those two things were in danger of being lost in our most recent game, but we all managed to keep it together. As I mentioned, I like to win with the best of them, but for the life of me, I cannot understand how some coaches and parents absolutely lose their stuff during practices or games. In our most recent game, the opposing team’s coaches were apparently encouraging dirty play (or at least allowing it) and even resorted to calling one or more of my players names from the sidelines…the coaches were name calling! It’s unbelievable. Prior to our game, the girls’ team played a game which ended with the opposing team’s coach being ejected from the game. I don’t get it! Anyhow, we won and won well without humiliating the other team or calling them names.
I think one of my favorite things about coaching soccer, with or without a kid on the team, is that I get to make a mark, be it large or small, on a few young men about what it looks like to be an adult. I am only one of a number of influences on these guys and, indeed,most of them have many very good people around them. I am just happy to be (hopefully) one more of those positive influences. I am definitely not fishing for praise…mainly just getting some thoughts out after a frustrating interaction with the other team in our last game.