Thanks, That Was Fun


I coached soccer this spring.  For a mixed team of 5 & 6 year olds.


Here’s what I was afraid of, in the beginning:

-The kids would hate me.

-I would hate the kids.

-The parents would not get my sense of humor.

-The kids AND the parents would realize I was a complete klutz.

-I would fall down/trip/wipe out.

-The other coaches would catch on that I knew nothing.

-The parents would expect little David Beckhams, 

and Mia Hamms,

when the best I could hope to deliver would be The Bad News Bears (whom I realize played baseball, but you see what I’m getting at).

-I would start to dread soccer nights, praying for rain.


Here’s what happened, instead:

-The kids seemed to like me.  When I see them at the playground, even now, they come up to me, call me “Coach”, want to talk to me.

-At the start of every new shift, I got 3 new kids out on the field, and every one of them was grinning ear to ear, ready to go, excited.

-Very few parents actually had anything negative to say.  The comments ran more towards, “You are a good, good woman for doing this.”

-I laughed my ass off.  At the kid who scored a goal, but inadvertently hit the other team’s goalie in the package, inhaled sharply, and said, “Oooh!  Right in the hot dog!”.  Or the kid who played a whole shift peeking out from beneath his dad’s jacket, because he didn’t want to get rained on.

-I watched the most competitive kids discover the art of passing to their team mates, and give up scoring opportunities, just to keep passing.

-I realized that the definition of a good soccer season was different for every single kid.  The kid whose favorite part of the game was sitting on the team blanket?  Had as great a season as the kid who liked scoring.



The biggest reward of the season came out of my biggest insecurity, though.


I have no killer instinct.  No competitive drive, in matters physical.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to impart  sense of competition to these kids.  Because I know that competition is important. It’s how we get shit done. 


But it turns out that on a beautiful spring night,  when you’re 5 or 6, and your parents  are cheering, and you’re running, and grinning, and eating watermeleon, and shaking hands at the end of the game,


competition just isn’t the most important thing.




17 responses to “Thanks, That Was Fun

  1. yay ginny! to this day, i’ll have some 20-year old stop me in the grocery store and say “Coach?” every time makes my heart nearly burst!

    i ‘got stuck’ with the 5 year olds soccer. i didn’t know dick about soccer. got videos from the library, bought a clipboard and some shorts that looked ‘coachy’. put on a SweeTarts baseball cap. my husband said “why are you dressed like that?” i said “i think i should look like a coach”. my son? he said “you need a whistle…”

    as the kids get older? sometimes the parents get shitty… but the kids generally are delightful…

  2. Indeed.

    I used to be the DJ for a basketball program. I’d introduce the players with that irritating “Rumble!” song in the background, play tunes between quarters, and have a blast.

    In the end, it was watching the little guy who hadn’t scored all season get the ball and watch the others stand back so he could shoot – get the rebound – shoot again – get the rebound – and finally get it in the bucket . . . that made it worth it.

    Competition? Yeah, there’s a season for that. But in the end, it’s about getting the bucket.

    Great job, coach!

  3. i love coaching!!

    the drawing is a little fallic, no?

  4. As a Soccer Team Mom for about seven or eight seasons I commend you. I never had the balls to actually coach. Planning the snack schedule was as committed as I got. (But still vital, I like to think!)

    But I love your comment about how, at that age, the kid who liked to sit on the team blanket love the season just as much as the kid who loved scoring. That is so true.

    As they get older sitting on the blanket is not quite as fun, I think. But at this age it’s not soo much about the competition as it is participating.

    If you got 5 and 6 year old to pass the ball then I am REALLY impressed!

  5. And then? You were thanked with a drawing of a few bright red weiners. Most excellent, Coach!

  6. What an awesome experience! You rule!

  7. Buuuhhhh! That’s so cute I could cry! I’m glad it ended up being a rad positive experience for you. Isn’t it nice when it works out like that?

  8. great story Ginny – well done with the coaching too!

  9. I would be really nervous about taking that on because you really put yourself front and center with parents, who we all know can be a little off their rocker sometimes. Good for you for trying it even though you were a bit scared, glad it worked out so well.

  10. What a great story! And I love how the people look like hot dogs with arms in the first picture. LOL Just goes to show how we put so much stress on ourselves. It’s nice when things work out so well.

  11. You totally need to wear your whistle everywhere you go now. You are SUCH a coach.

  12. Awesome! When I was a teenager, I coached the 6-8 year old softball girls who didn’t get picked for another team. It was one of the best experiences of my life. One girl in right field missed a fly ball because she was at the fence looking at a bunny. But we always managed a little winning streak towards the end of the season. They will learn competitiveness soon enough. Learning to be part of a team is the hard bit.

  13. Daisyfae: It was a really, really great experience. And yeah, I kept watching Sports Centre, trying to pick up terminology. “Leg it out!” was my favorite one I adopted.

    tysdaddy: The kid who liked to sit on the blanket, at the last game, totally scored a goal. I just about cried. He couldn’t have cared less.

    Nikki: I assure you, this lovely child meant nothing phallic with the drawing. I just love that he drew himself soooo much bigger than any other kid.

    Vinomom: Involved parents (and you know this firsthand) make all the difference.

    Mongoliangirl: Again, I’m going to bet this kid was not in a hotdog state of mind. I’ll ask him, next time I see him. And he won’t tell me. But I’ll ask him.

    faemom: Thank you 🙂

    Emerald: It has gone a long way towards making up for the shitty experiences of sports I had in childhood.

    nursemyra: Thanks very much.

    formerlyfun: I was lucky going in, that I knew over half of the parents, and knew they were good folk. Luckily, the others mostly followed suit.

    NATUI: Exactly: all the stress was self-induced – lesson learned.

    Beej: I damn near wore it to bed one night, when I forgot to take it off after a game. Oddly enough, Owen didn’t complain…

    Chris: The kid in goal was, unfailingly, sitting down cross-legged every time the ball came at them. Well, not every time, but lot of them. It was always hillarious to watch them realize what was happening, and get their shit together just in time.

  14. As the parent of the artist of the “phallic” & “weiner” drawing, I have had my eyes opened. No more visits to Fat Frank’s hot dog stand for him.

    And Ginny, you were an amazing coach before the season even started just for saying you’d BE COACH. All the good parts after that were just a bonus.

  15. Thanks, Tara. And thank you for never being afraid to volunteer. Your husband, that is. No, seriously, knowing that there were parents back there who would (probably) not yell at me helped immensely.

  16. I love picturing you coaching kids. I had a similar roundabout when I ran a summer camp. Thought I was going to die! But in the end it was more rewarding than I’d thought.

  17. How sweet, Ginny! You ARE a good, good woman for doing it. Can’t imagine I’d ever put myself out there in that way, but I can see how much it meant to everyone, including you! Kudos…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s