I have a new passion. It isn’t Kit-Kat bars, chia tea, shopping at Costco, or even Zumba…like some of my past passions. It is quite ironic really. This soccer wife has turned soccer coach. Yep, you read that right. I am my son’s 1st and 2nd grade soccer coach.
When I first announced to B that I would be “wearing a whistle” he gave me a puzzled and skeptical look, “Don’t worry. I’ll get all my ideas from Daddy.” There was a marked, physical reaction of relief.
I was nervous, but after our first practice I actually felt a bit in my element: telling young children what to do and making sure they had smiles on their faces the entire time. I have six kids on my team and we play with a max of four players on the field, so it is right at my soccer level, but I am finding that after being the “coach’s wife” for over a decade, I have actually caught on to a few very basic rules, plays, and overall general coaching philosophy. I guess all my husband’s post-game talks late at night have paid off.
I find myself using phrases I have heard Hans say like, “Keep square to the ball. Play to feet. Don’t hold on to the ball, pass it. Keep shape. Remember, we play our style.”
In our second match the opposing team’s coach, another mom, looked very nervous, admitting that she’d never coached before.
“Oh, me too. Don’t worry.” But I think she probably hates me now and decided I was playing a sick, cruel joke because compared to her team my group played some beautiful soccer. (This is when I should probably mention that five of the six players have been to one of my husband’s soccer camps…several times.) We were passing. We were fluid. Kids were holding their positions. Our defenders were reading the game well and going out and winning balls only to set up the plays again in our favor. I mean, I was ecstatic. I’m sure in a few years B is going to find me totally embarrassing, but for now he’s so excited to be playing on a real team that he doesn’t seem to notice the loud, vocal coach, who happens to be his mom, shouting at everyone.
I find myself running up and down the sidelines, hollering at the kids to pass to open players, reminding them to “shake hands with the line”, and guiding them toward sweet victory. (This is also when I should probably tell you that a good coach never does this type of “coaching” during a game. My husband chastised me after our second match.) But we were all feeling quite good about ourselves. We aren’t supposed to keep score, but I secretly love that the kids do. I mean, what’s wrong with a little competition? Shouldn’t kids learn to win and to loose, not just get participation points leaving everyone feeling “good” about having fun with a ball? (I might not feel this way if we are ever the recipients of a blowout.)
By the end of each match, I’m exhausted. My adrenaline has pumped a bit too much, and I’m in need of a cool down. I’m so happy though, so proud of my team. At our second game, everyone got at least one shot on goal and most got it through the middle of the two, red flags! Nothing feels better than seeing a seven-year-old score! And nothing feels better to a coach than seeing these kids beam with soccer love.
And then it dawned on me, the true reason my husband loves coaching soccer. Yeah, we all know he loves the game, but I think what keeps him doing it season after season is that there is something rewarding about working with youth, seeing them succeed, and hearing them express how good they feel about all their hard work and end results. And I think this is the passion that I am currently, truly, addicted too. It’s not really about the game of soccer, it’s about the kids.