The soccer season is back. Am I talking about Barclay’s Premier League, which started last Saturday morning and brought with it 9 hours of glorious futbol on various NBC channels? Yes. That’s part of it. But the next part is even better …my daughter’s team had their first practice, last night, and I’m an assistant coach.
Some people reluctantly raise a hand to coach when their kids are little, especially when the sport is soccer. Soccer has a bigger following now compared to when I was younger and nobody’s father knew a thing about the sport, but it’s still a sport unknown to most men my age. Men who are fathers themselves. It’s never a problem finding a former basketball, football, or baseball player to coach a youth team. And most of the dads helping out likely played those sports a little bit, themselves. That’s not the case with soccer.
Except with me. I’m that guy. I played two sports as a kid. Basketball and soccer. Genetically, however, I was never destined to be a basketball player. Nowadays, I might have struggled with soccer, too. But in the late 80s and early 90s, soccer was a great sport for a kid standing 5’4″ and weighing in under 150 pounds.
I never thought I’d enjoy anything more than playing soccer, but I think I’ve found it – coaching soccer. Maybe I like coaching, or maybe I’m just really lucky that for the past 5 years I’ve watched little pee-wee girls go from playing soccer because their parents forced them to play something, to seeing this same group thrive, develop a competitive streak, and love soccer. They listen. They improve. They don’t like when they lose. When you’re a coach, regardless of the sport, those are the intangibles that make the long non-paid hours worth it.
It’s one thing to love something, like soccer. But it’s another thing to help other people see what an amazing game it is. Like with parenting …manners and academics are important, and when my kids show me it’s important to them, it warms my heart. And for me, it’s that way with social media, if I can make an aside. So many people tell me social media is a waste of time. I love when I can show them otherwise and if you use it the right way, it can be highly rewarding, engaging, and informative.
That’s how I’ve come to feel about soccer and the kids I coach. If somehow my enthusiasm became contagious, and it’s part of the reason this big group of girls love soccer, too … that’s what it’s all about.
I hope you got a real “kick” out of this blog entry. That was a pun, right? I sometimes write puns on Twitter and you can follow me @donkowalewski.