I recently coached my youngest daughter Analise’s last soccer game of the season. Her team, the Blue Saphires, consists of 8 and 7 year old girls. I coached her team last year too. And my youngest boy Michael’s team the year before that. And both my oldest boy JD’s regular and all star team the year before that. And one year of basketball. And now, it seems, I’m retired.
Reason being is that next year Analise plans to play “competitive” soccer with her club. She was invited to play this year but graciously declined after being reminded that her dad had already agreed to coach the team she was on. My two boys already play on competitive teams. Competitive soccer does away with parent coaches. There, it’s all professional. And never having played soccer in my life, I am far from qualifying.
I’m kind of sad it’s over. I coached each of my soccer teams with my great friend Michael from the Isle of Man. He knows soccer. I am more of the team director. I picked up some knowledge along the way for sure, but Michael actually played as his primary sport as a youngster. The performance of our teams varied. One year, our boys won every game and never allowed a goal against. Other years, including my last one, we struggled a bit. But I wouldn’t trade a single team, a single player or a single season.
One thing coaching confirmed to me is how unique kids can be. I have seen firsthand the range of personalities, temperament, and physical abilities that kids possess. And yet, as different as they are, they are all really cool. And each one of them is necessary to define the fabric, personality and character of the team as a whole.
I hope other than soccer, I taught them to try hard, be nice, and to be fair. Some, I think, I helped with confidence. Others, perhaps, I helped with discipline. Maybe some of them simply needed a place to play and make their parents proud.
I hope they see the commitment as a reflection of the love I have for them.
I know that coaching gives me a chance to spend even more time with my own kids. I suspect they are proud to have their dad as the coach. I hope they see the commitment as a reflection of the love I have for them. Each time I have coached, I have seen my kids step their personal games up and improve immensely over the season. I think that is part of just trying to make me proud and saying thanks for coaching them.
I still get to “coach” my own kids. We train as a group in soccer, boxing, fitness and jiu-jitsu. I try to help them with goals, commitment to them, and mental preparation to games. I am excited about that next chapter. I also still get to see lots of my former players at school or on the soccer pitch. They probably don’t know how happy it makes me when they come over to say hi. I like it most when they still call me “Coach.” I bet they would think that was silly but it’s true.
If you get a chance to coach your kid, or any kid at all, do it. You will love it. Guaranteed.