Skip to main content

That Coach

I started coaching #3's, soccer team last year.  The decision was easy to make because two years ago, I signed #1 & #2 up for soccer and we were stuck with a coach who's eye was focused on winning and basically ignored my kids. I spent the entire season feeling like an annexed coach with my two players.   Because #3 has PDD/NOS/ODD, I decided that being coach was absolutely necessary. That was not going to happen again, so here I am, the only female coach in the boys soccer league. When I was kid, I played soccer all through high school, so I know the game and love it a little more than I remember.

When I coached the team last year, some of the players were barely four and they played right along with the five and six-year-olds. For most of them, it was their first time ever playing an organized sport. Most of our time was spent making sure the kids ran in the right direction and stayed on their feet.  We played six on six and no goalie. It was fun for them and funny for us. By the end of the season, everyone had improved dramatically, including #3.

When soccer season began again and #3 wanted to play, this time without the bribes, I continued to coach. We moved up to the next age group but I didn't anticipate the shift from teaching soccer to competition. I always treated games as a chance for both teams to learn and be coached by both sets of coaches. This year the kids are six and seven years old. Out of the ten kids I have on the team, maybe three have that athletic ability. The rest run around, not sure what to do, checking out the grass, dirt, bug, sky, cloud formations and each other. #3 is in that category. Most of my time coaching is spent trying to keep them on task and on their feet. And we're talking my kid plus nine neuro-typical kids.

The first three games, I talked to the opposing coach and we set up the parameters; sub at seven minutes, water break at 10. Two 15 minute halves, whatever. The teams were like mine, random good players thrown in  with a myriad of skill levels complete with a laid-back coach who laughed and didn't think twice about using any stop in play as an opportunity to teach the kids about field placement or strategy.

And then I met the green team and their aggressive coach. We all know the ones that bark out orders to the team, run it like a tight ship and push through the games until the job is done. First off, the coach approached one of the dads to discuss game matters and then he sent him my way. Yes, the chick is in charge. See my whistle? Now, I'm not a small person, I'm 5'8", but this coach towered over me. He was easily 6'3" and it was apparent his eye was on the prize. As soon as the whistle blew, their team came at us fast. Coach big green was pushing his team to take throw-ins as soon as they got the ball while my team was mulling around not noticing that the ball was back in play. I did ask him if we could blow the whistle at each throw-in so the teams would know that the ball was going back into play, but he didn't agree to it. I do realize that in real soccer, that is not done, but they are little and half of them were meandering around the field. Minute by minute, I found myself more wrapped up in game play to get my guys through the game, rather than using the plays to teach, and I didn't like it. What were they going to take away from that game experience?

I did manage to praise every goalie save, each rally and each missed goal, but the joy of the game, while I was in the game, was gone. I was so wrapped in keeping my team plugged-in and moving in the right direction that the game ended and I had missed the fun.

In the end, once we shifted a few players around, we dominated the second half and the game ended in a no-score tie.  Maybe, my coaching tactic was working better than his; lots of praise and no negativity, "this time you did this, next time let's try that. You did great today!" But, maybe I do need to push the boys a little harder and make the game a bit more efficient.  I believe that if you take the time to teach them teamwork and field position, the speed and cooperation will come. There are some situations that only come up during game play and the moment to teach them is after the play is done. When the kids are this small, and we're trying to teach them to like the game, play the game properly and prepare them for the more competitive age groups, we need to take the time to lay the foundation. This is not the age to rush, it is the time to teach.

I was complimented by a mom from the other team. She said, "I think it is really awesome that you are coach." Thanks!  My friend Becky told me that the league needed me and I just shrugged it off. But after that mom's comment, I thought about it, and I guess if I were on the sidelines watching me coach, I'd see a coach that treats all her players as her own and teaches her players to be the best players that they can be. Will that win games? Not so sure. Will it teach them to believe in themselves and love the game? Hopefully. But the Magic 8 Ball says, "it is decidedly so."

Note to Coach big green: You're going down.

Comments

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think and what you've experienced.

Popular posts from this blog

Diary of a music mom

Since fifth grade, both #1 and #2 have been playing instruments; #1, the saxophone and #2, the trombone. #1, Autism classic, plays the very same saxophone that I started on in fifth grade. I  teach him daily and we go once a week to our new sax teacher and they work on jazz. #2, the aspy is a lot more autonomous and he doesn't require my attention when he practices and gets by with his weekly skype lessons from grandpa and his private teacher.

Every year, our school district hosts a solo and ensemble festival. The kids have roughly eight weeks to choose a listed piece and then perform it with an accompaniment. Every year, I make the boys participate even though it means I need to spend more time with #1 to make sure he doesn't sound like a moose in the wild and more like a saxophone player.

It always turns out like this:
I choose the new piece and we trudge through it slowly and painfully.
I second guess my choice because I think it's too much, too hard, too intricate for …

My Heart Will Go On

At the end of the school year, the teachers usually host an event to give thanks to the many parents who helped out during the school year. When I went to #1's school, they had an elaborate spread and the highlight was when the sign language club performed a few songs.  #2 & #3's school, had their volunteer appreciation breakfast last week, and I was happy that I was able to bring the twins with me.

Everything was great. There was food, coffee, juice and some awesome moms. But, then the music teacher brought in the fourth grade class and they were all holding their recorders. Great. One kid practicing the recorder at home is painful enough.  Forty kids playing recorder in a quasi-controlled group is just one way the music teacher can express her feelings about not getting any holiday presents or special accolades during teacher appreciation week. F-U people, I teach your talentless kids and it is a thankless and painful job.  I'm going to let you know how much I apprec…

World Autism Awareness Month: A Time To Focus On Our Similarities.

Tomorrow, April 2, is World Autism Awareness day. I thought about all the things I could say about awareness and then I realized that the people who read this blog know all this stuff. With the latest release from the CDC about the number of children diagnosed with Autism now at 1:68, there will be a day that everyone will know or be related to someone with Autism. And unfortunately,  It is only when something affects everyone is when things will change.

I decided to re-share excerpts from my post: We're More alike than you think. The post was inspired by Willman Stillman and my self-observations. Everyday I look at my children and realize I have more Autistic qualities that I realized. I have also realized that it not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe melting and throwing myself on the ground if I can't find my keys may be over-doing it a bit, but many things are really a core part of me; like my ability to memorize information. It comes in handy on Black Friday for sure.