This is no advice column. But I tell ya. If you want your life to change, coach soccer.
The little guys. The ones pouncing like cheetahs on each other or plucking grass and stacking it on each other’s heads while you give directions.
If you need perspective on what matters and what doesn’t, round up five boys and five balls twice each week–two who are digging a hole in the infield, oblivious to soccer, two who are caught in a rousing game of He-kicked-my-ball-so I’m-gonna-kick-his, one who has to go to the bathroom in the bushes, and ALL who have their hearing turned off.
You. Will never be the same.
And because that’s me, I can tell you, too, it may be the best thing that’s ever happened.
Here are my boys. The Rockets.
And here they are running with the finesse of wild turkeys in our first game two months ago.
Where the other team is, I don’t know. But at this point, shouting phrases like “pass the ball” or “spread out, boys” will only be interpreted as “whatever you do, DO NOT pass the ball” and “bunch up, guys.”
Best just to clap and cheer. For anything.
About the time you think ready position ought to look one way, it takes on a whole new look.
And then that’s it. Game over.
And the finer things of soccer can begin.
About mid-season, we looked like this. Like we’d been buddies forever.
Soccer still had to vie for our attention.
But we’d finally learned to call our uniforms “uniforms” and not costumes.
Here’s the lot of us.
And here’s the effect soccer has had on us so far.
In the thick of things, though, change is subtle.
And it’s only noticeable in our stride.
Or in the fact that we’re dribbling in the right direction.
Or in the thought we sort of give to passing.
But sometimes change is more obvious. And we prove it in our stance.
Or in our field position.
Or in the fact that we’re running.
No matter what it looks like.
By season’s near-end, we’ve learned how good it feels to high-five a teammate.
And the other team.
And we’ve come to realize that we’re not just a group of people freezing together on the same field at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
We’re parents and players giving and receiving love.
One “atta boy” head pat…
At a time.