The question was posed in email by the head soccer coach to all of the parents: Can any of you help out this season? I need an assistant coach to help run practices and be at the games.
I can. But I will not.
I mean, I have other things to do. Like work, like family, like my own exercise. Surely, another parent can volunteer.
Then I thought: I have coached my daughter and son’s soccer teams before. I play on a rec team as an adult. I know a thing or two about the game. I do love to be around kids. Maybe it won’t be too much of a time suck: practice twice a week, one game every Saturday. And whaddya know, my nearly-14-year-old daughter encouraged me to coach. (That was enough for me to say yes right there…um, my teenager wants me there?!)
I filled out the background check and took the concussion test and sudden cardiac arrest test. I showed up to the first practice a little begrudgingly. I mean, it was still hot August and I could have been kicking back at home with Otis in the shade. Plus. So many teenagers. It was a little daunting.
A few fathers showed up to volunteer and then disappeared after the first practice. Looks like they are stuck with me!
I was warmly welcomed and surrounded by 17 young women full of chatter, giggles, hormones, and braces–as it is with 13- and 14-year-olds–and I was instantly comfortable. I made the right choice.
Within 10 minutes, I knew everyone’s name.
Throughout the season, I gave feedback, high-fived, shouted encouragement, joked, gave pats on the back, talked 1:1 on the sidelines. Assistant coaching was so much more than helping the players improve their soccer skills. I was a supporter, a listener, an encourager, a guider, a trusted friend (and occasional chauffeur).
Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays. Those were soccer days! A chance to make connections, be a positive influence, and build confidence.
Navigating life can be tough for young teenagers struggling with self-confidence, peer pressure, school demands, family issues.
Sure there were foot skills and dribbling, conditioning, building a strong defense, and taking shots. But there was oh so much more. It was a supportive team that built each other up. The players as individuals truly cared for one another. We learned and grew.
That Fall soccer season, I received so much more than I gave. I know for a fact that I was surrounded by sweat and braces, and love. #winning