When you're a 40 something single mother of a teen with lots of ambition, you find yourself in all kinds of interesting adventures and situations. Come back to laugh at us any time you feel the need, heaven knows where we'll be doing what next. Here you can expect a few words, a lot of images and hopefully ideas on what you can do for your next adventure.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

The tribulations of a first time soccer coach

I signed my son up for soccer this fall knowing that it keeps him healthy, tired and out of trouble. It's also a good chance for him to hang with his friends, make new ones and to get into the community. This is his third year playing for our local recreation department.

Monkey scores a goal in last year's season - I haven't had a chance to get pics this year.... yet.

I received a somewhat desperate call in early September from the rec department manager asking if I would coach the monkey's team. Once I heard some of the player's names and realized I knew over half the team I readily agreed to take the position. Mind you - I know nothing of coaching a team of my own (but I was team mom for baseball) and didn't play soccer in school (I played field hockey instead) so I'm winging this for sure. I've watched other parents take on the responsibility and thought that it didn't look all that bad.

Holy crap - what was I thinking?

We played a double-header yesterday morning and 8 of the 10 children showed up for the first game (we play 6 children on the field - 3 offense, 2 defense and the goalkeeper) so I had two subs, which was better than last week's game where we only had one. The opposing coach introduced himself as 'Tim' and we talked about who would play what role in the game - he took referee and I took timekeep. Note to self - be careful when the opposing team offers to take the ref role right away.

Tim turned out to be one of those coaches who doesn't like his team beaten up by anyone but himself and wants his team to win, win, WIN. He called every push, shove, trip and bump by my boys - every one was unintentional. His team however was allowed to basically do whatever it took. My kids know how to play the game so I'm teaching them basic skills - stay in your position, don't cross in front of the net with the ball, defensive play - and they did exactly what they needed to and played a very good game - I was proud. I am very verbal while they play, but it's not obnoxious. He was literally yelling at his kids and his assistant coaches and so help me, if he had raised his voice at me he was all done. He screamed at his assistant at one point and told him that he wasn't keeping up with subs and to do a better job. Mind you - his assistant looked like his 10 year old son. I had a parent come to me and rant about how she didn't like him yelling at her kid and I told her I'd talk to him but it's a good thing that didn't happen - I'm not sure how I would have handled it. We tied 2-2 and as he rounded his kids up he was chastising them for not hustling to make that last goal, while I was praising my boys for hanging in there and playing a great game. They did, I was proud. We shook hands and I checked the schedule to make sure we weren't playing THEM again.

We had an hour overlay between games so I got my chair and plunked down to watch the 'in between' game. The team all sat with me - which I thought was adorable - and they took turns sharing their Gameboys/DS's and stories. I turned to them and said "make sure your parents know where you are so they don't worry" and two of them piped up and said "Oh, they left and said they would be right back - they had to blah blah blah". Oh sweet, now I'm a babysitter too! I had brought extra water and a few snacks knowing that someone would be hungry, and sure enough the next thing I hear is "I'm starving / I'm thirsty". "Did mom/dad bring anything for your to eat/drink?" "Nope". I handed out the goodies, it's obvious that I'm a mom.

Game two was much better coach-wise, it was a sister team to ours from our rec department. The young man coaching that team helps out our after-care program and is really, really nice. I lost my two subs and only had the 6 players AND I was ref for this game (only one with a whistle) so I was juggling trying to make sure my boys weren't going to pass out on the field. When they looked tired I moved them back to defense - goalkeep if they look really exhausted - then move my defense up to offense to wear them out for a few minutes. I just rotate them out and they all work really hard no matter where I put them. By the middle of this game, they were just dragging themselves around the field. The other coach suggested we shorten the game up by ten minutes and I almost hugged him!

We finished the game with a score of 2-1, it was hard fought and our first real loss and the boys took it hard (current standings - 1 win, 1 tie, 1 loss). I gave them the pep talk and reminded them that it had been a long hard morning but that I was so proud of how well they played. And I am. Those kids are fantastic and I really have alot of potential high school athletes playing for me right now. They've already asked if I'm helping with baseball in the spring and if I'm coaching next year, I must be doing something right.

Let me tell you folks - this coaching thing needs to have a few clauses with it:
  • You will be a coach and teach them how to play the game
  • You will learn how to be a referee
  • You will learn how to be a timekeeper
  • You will learn how to rotate 10 kids through all the positions and have them play 50% of the game in between play stops
  • You will learn how to ignore the crying, whining and plea-barganing of kids trying to play the position they want to play, not the one you choose for them
  • You will learn how to ignore the crying, whining and yelling by the parents of your team during the game and when they think their child is being treated unfairly
  • You will be a ringleader and try to keep the circus under control
  • You will be a refridgerator and keep them hydrated and fed
  • You will be a babysitter because some parents are too busy to hang around
  • You will be a registered RN by the time you're done evaluating everyone's bumps, scrapes and bruises
  • You will be exhausted at the end of every practice and game from thinking, running and yelling
  • You will be proud of your little brood no matter what the outcome is
  • You will be respected by those little munchkins, no matter what they say or do.
When I think about it, I probably will do it again next year. Call me crazy, but it sure beats hanging on the sidelines gossiping with the other parents or trying to make nice.


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