This spring I did a thing. I signed both my (then) 4 year old and 3 year old up for soccer which in and of itself is no big deal. Then the email came: “we are low on volunteers and need parents to coach this season’s soccer teams.”
I’m a yes person.
If an opportunity arises where I can help out or do something, I say yes. It’s just in my nature. Not to say that it doesn’t come back to bite me and I wonder why I feel so overwhelmed at times but none the less, I always say yes. So what did I do? I said yes, I’ll be a coach. I’ve never played soccer, don’t know much about the sport and not sure what I’m doing but sure, I’ll coach. I assumed this meant I would watch the kids run around and bring some cookies every Saturday morning.
Then reality hit.
I attended the coach’s meeting where we were told we have to come up with warm ups, drills and activities for the kids. I actually had to teach them how to play soccer. And while we were at it, also teach life lessons like sportsmanship, respect and teamwork. I started to freak out, but then coach said: “your measure of success will be if at the end of the season the kids want to come back and do it again.” That stuck with me the entire time. I didn’t need to overthink it. I just needed to make those kids feel valued.
Here are my takeaways from the experience:
We are better when we work together.
I felt fortunate that the coach of the other team was wonderful, and he had an equally wonderful wife that partnered with me to put together activities for the kids each week. We worked together as a team and the kids all played together. I stress repeatedly the importance of having a support system and this just goes to show how it can really make or break a situation. These kids had a much better and organized time because we worked together and supported each other throughout the season.
We (parents) all have similar struggles.
There was maybe one game that we got through where nobody cried (and the other coach and I high fived while we celebrated this). One game out of 8. Girls coming without their hair brushed (ok, maybe that was mine). People coming late because it took the kids too long to put their shoes on. While we may feel like we’re alone in our day to day struggles in parenting, we really aren’t.
Sportsmanship, teamwork and manners are not innate.
I could tell the kids whose parents worked on these things at home and those that didn’t. It was a learning experience for a lot of the kids (including my own) that just because they didn’t score their goal, it was a good thing for their overall team since their teammate did. It’s never too early to start instilling these life lessons in your kids.
Will I coach again? Probably not. It was actually quite a bit of work, but it was a learning experience just as much for me as for the little ones on the field. I will certainly have much more respect for the coaches of the kids’ activities going forward. But then again, I can’t so no so I’ll never say never.