Lessons in Soccer Go Beyond Scoring Goals
There are some points in life that your kids make you crazy. Like, certifiable. Like, 'I could drive to a cabin in the woods and live off the land if it meant quiet' crazy. And then sometimes their sweet hearts just make you so proud. Last night was one of those nights for me.
Recently, my daughter who will be going into second grade joined a youth soccer program. Because of COVID, the season was delayed. Delayed to the HOTTEST MONTH OF THE YEAR. Gah! Now, this particular soccer program is completely run by volunteers. I'll be honest - I expected to run a concession stand or help littles cross the road. That was going to be MY volunteer contribution. God laughs when you make plans... doesn't he?
I had no idea I'd be asked to be a "coach." See, I'm not a sports person. I run like a newborn giraffe. The ball comes flying at me and I flinch and move away quickly. I am that person who in 5th grade when chosen as the volleyball team captain purposefully picked all the kids who were always picked last FIRST. You can quit judging me now - I own every bit of this. And, FYI my team of underdogs WON the 5th grade volleyball championship. Thankyouverymuch!
The one and only reason my daughter participates is because she loves soccer. I don't force her into extra-curriculars to live out my own dreams. Even if I did, sports wouldn't be it. Sport ball = 100% her father. Did I mention her genetic makeup is actually 99% her dad and 1% me. She got my hair color. That's about it. Carbon copy.
My daughter's team is comprised of three 5-yr-olds, two 6-yr-olds, and two 7-yr-olds. The only girls on the field with her last night were the three five-year-olds. Now, remember when I said my daughter is 99% her father. She also got his competitive nature and a team of really young girls with a crappy coach (me) playing against a team of eight was no contest.
My philosophy is to let everyone play every position. I know having the seven-year-old play up front all night would open the door for more goals but everyone should get the chance to show up and play. She let me know that she didn't agree with my decision...
The game went as expected. And I knew it frustrated the heck out of her. But in a brief moment of divine intervention and true grit, my daughter made it thru the gaggle of gigantic defenders who out manned, out skilled, and out played our team and she scored a goal. (Our first goal of the season.) And I was proud of her but not as proud as what came next. I looked over to see tears coming from her fellow forward and teammate - a tiny little girl who took on the swarm of ponytails and wayward swinging soccer cleats and for her trouble ate it big.
Before I could maneuver my gangly baby giraffe body to the girl, my daughter swooped in to hug her and comfort her. By the time I made it across the field, my daughter had her convinced that she had the heart of a champion who would rise again to claim victory! I watched it happen. I know it had to hurt but to my surprise with a little teammate persuasion she pushed right thru it.
I made my daughter play defense for half of that that game because not only did I want her teammates to get the opportunity to play up front but I also wanted her to be able to sit back and guide her team on the field. It didn't matter that we lost the game. And though I was proud of her for the accomplishment of scoring that impossible goal, it mattered more to me that she was there for someone when they needed her. It made me proud that people matter more to her than her own frustrations or winning. And it made me proud that she developed as a leader and a person just a little more last night.
I might be the world's worst soccer coach, but after seeing that I think I might be at least okay at this parenting thing.