My inaugural season as head coach of a girls soccer team has ended.
I kept asking the girls as the season wound to a close amid a series of rainouts and re-scheduled games if they were having fun. They all said “yes.” Even children can be very good liars. I know for a fact it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows only because children can be lazy, too, and I yell a lot. My personal standard isn’t to “win” every game but to put forth a “good” effort.
For some, “good” meant “showing up.” The games this season (we wound up 8-4 although no records or scores are kept) I was most proud were actually losses. Thus, we define the quandary: I’m not there to dig in dirt and catch butterflies, and, sometimes, little girls want to dig in dirt and catch butterflies.
Yet, I’m not nearly as good of a coach to handle eight girls totally focused on playing kickass soccer, bicycle kicks and give-and-go’s. Perhaps the girls were playing down to the quality of the coach.
In all honesty, as I ventured into youth sports coachdom, I was less worried about the children and more so about the parents. The girls returning to the team I was not worried about. They’d voiced their opinions that a new coach was needed … less unicorns and rainbows and more RUNNING.
However, we acquired four new girls which meant eight new parents. Dangerous territory.
Would they be the over-aggressive parents, who wind up on FOX News after they attack a parent from an opposing team with a nine-iron? Did they care at all? Did they just want their kids to build “character?”
I was scared most for the latter: The parents that just want their kids to have “fun.” My attitude was that scoring goals and winning is “fun.” And it is. It was surprising to see dour girls light up when they scored or when they were told that they scored more than the opponent.
“Winning is the most fun thing ever.” – Mad Dad
I found sometimes I probably come off as too harsh, too intense. That is something I’ll need to learn to harness. Take that energy and funnel it into making the girls run suicides for 20 minutes.
Otherwise, I’d rather be the coach that I was than some of the coaches that we played against. Some never showed up. Others had their girls so underprepared that it was embarrassing (been there, done that). Others had such out-of-control brats that I held myself back from mouthing off. Against one team – despite beating them, soundly – the opponent kept terrorizing my players arguing that they (the opponent) were in fact winning. At times, after an opponent scored a goal and would put their downward directed thumbs in my players’ faces.
Again, we beat the crap out of them. Seriously. And the little girl with the glasses that kept “getting hurt” and crying herself off the field yet felt OK enough to talk some $&!# … I WILL REMEMBER YOU NEXT SEASON.