It’s a new season…
Anyone who has coached youth sports for more than a season can relate. It’s all roses and golden sunbeams. Yessir.
But the cynicism is an undercurrent, underscored by the rueful coachism: the search for that “perfect team of orphans” is endless.
El Oh El.
New season, new team, new-ish parents and kids. Everything is mostly cool. Hold on Rambo. Not so fast.
He’s the reason she doesn’t know how to play positions.
“Cry me a river,” said the youth soccer coach to the other youth soccer coach. Seriously… you have to develop a thick skin in this business. Whine in private, smile in public, make those kids better. That’s what it’s about. Soccer coaches are some of the cockiest folks around, but even the best have doubts from time to time. Is it really worth risking a loss to ensure that little Jane gets some playing time to build up her confidence for future endeavors?
Do we go for wins, or develop at the younger ages? Is it about the technical development and the tactical learning, or the trophies? No, really… is it?
My daughter has gotten worse this season.
When it’s all said and done, it’s what we chose. Nah, for every coach making 6 figures in the Bay Area and Sunshine states, there are thousands doing it for free. You have to love this to do this. Simple. Ask the rec coaches who do it week to week for a thank you card and hugs a the end of the season.
It is so easy to develop a righteous indignation when coaching youth sports. Youth soccer is an interesting powder keg. I mean, you have parents paying a lot for a sport which, in a lot of cases, they may not have played. Plus, we live in a results-oriented society. It’s tough to compare the ability to do a pullback against the heft of shiny, gold-plated trophy.
Again, cry me a river.
Well, I think the playing time should be equal.
Losing, for lack of a better term, sucks. I wish I could claim to be on a higher plane, but I HATE losing. I brood for days. When I tell my ladies to shake it off and look for the positives, I admittedly struggle with doing the same.
Sometimes, the pullback is not enough. That late consolation goal we scored that resulted from us doing some great passing after conceding 6? I admit, it feels hollow at times. When the grumbling starts, it can be disconcerting, even for folks like me who have supposedly learned to tune it out.
Academy ages (8-12) are some of the hardest to fill, and with good reason. Heck, give me 11 v 11. That natural. Plus, by the time you pick up the older teams, the parents are a bit more tenured… maybe even realistic… and the coach is probably not seen as the sole stumbling block to soccer stardom.
Yes, it can suck. But we all (mostly) come back. We know it’s coming, and work to avoid, but deep down, we know.
And through it all, through those tough times, when Jimmy’s dad is trying to take a harried picture of you so as to use your face for a dart board, when Jill casually mentions at practice that her mom thinks the team sucks because you (the coach) don’t use enough cones AND don’t run enough, you have to remember why you do this.
Why? This is one of thirteen reasons:
You do it because you find out how cool 13 young people can be. You find out that try as you might, you can pretend not to adore each and every one of them… and the little ruffians know it. You begin to look forward to practice days, because you know that no matter how rough the preceding day was, it will be absolutely fine for and hour and a half stretch twice a weak.
You do it because even though you coach them for only a year, you develop lifelong friendships with the players… and their families. You begin to hate May, because you can’t imagine your players moving on to other teams and adventures, and are forever respectfully jealous of their new coaches.
I do it because I’m selfish, and look forward to the special moments, which don’t always happen on the field. I do it because I’m an old ex-player that looks best when hanging out with the coolest people in the world: My team.