so, can we talk about this soccer thing?
you might remember a few months ago, our soccer league was scrambling for coaches; specifically coaches in my son's age group; more specifically... coaches for my son's team (of course.) i deftly avoided hanging a whistle around my neck by agreeing to be the "assistant" coach to a very competent coach who stepped up at the last minute. whew!
my duties as assistant coach were pretty minimal: organize the snack bringers, remind parents what color jersey to have clean for the upcoming game (we alternate between white and blue jerseys), show up at practices for moral support, help with the phone tree when rain forced us to cancel, etc., etc. i was really good at doing all of those things.
and competent coach was doing a great job out on the field! trust me, i know how challenging it can be to herd nine Under-10-year-olds into something that resembles a cohesive team. i know how challenging it can be to convince them that they don't all want to play goalie at the same time. i know how challenging it can be to get them to keep their hands to themselves.
i know this now, because all of a sudden, i realize i've spent the second half of the season being The Coach.
oh, yes. first it was, "hey, can you cover this practice?" then it was, "can you cover the make-up game on thursday night, because I have an exam." and then, "my sons have been diagnosed with the flu, and i'm not feeling so great myself." and finally,"my flu has turned into bronchitis and possibly pneumonia so, guess what? i won't be there saturday. can you cover the game?"
so, that is the story of how i became the soccer coach for the U-10 Hurricanes. i don't begrudge coach his families' illnesses, and i certainly am grateful that the pox has not fallen upon my household. but? "coaching" has stressed me out. (like i needed anything else to stress me out these days. fortieth birthday approaching? hello?!?)
i feel that i've been competent in my substitute role. i've run drills, i've remembered to bring a jersey for the goalie, i've communicated effectively with the other coaches, i've overcome absences and i've even finally learned something more than the most basic of soccer rules. the kids have even called me "coach," and i feel like we've found a middle ground between total chaos and championship team. we've definitely shown progress, and we've even won a few games!!
have i enjoyed it? no. i get stressed out before each game, wondering if i'm going to upset a child (or worse, their parent) by substituting too much, or not enough; by not giving everyone a fair shot at goalie. by not noticing that so-and-so is calling so-and-so an "idiot." every time i call "SUB," i worry that we didn't have possession of the ball and that i've made an agregious soccer error.
my child seems more stressed when i'm coaching. it's tough to appreciate the nuance between "mom" and "mom-who-is-coaching-right-now-honey."
we had our last game yesterday, and we just have the soccer festival standing between us and the end of the season (and vacation. and forty...) i feel good about my participation, even if my original plan to avoid coaching at all costs didn't quite pan out. i think i was a fair coach, full of encouragement and praise and gentle reminders. i also realize that, for my son at least, i actually would like a a coach who is full of drills and enthusiasm and athleticism. (i don't feel like jack made a lot of technical advances this season.) what can i say? i'm driven. and, i appreciate someone who can lead the drive.
one of the parents said to me recently, "you're doing a great job." i immediately whipped my head around, looking for lurking soccer league administrators. "don't say that too loud," i admonished in a whispered frenzy, "i don't want them to call me next season!"