I’ve mentioned it a few times now that I am coaching Hailey’s soccer team. I’m not going to lie, in the beginning I really hated it, mainly because I just didn’t know what I was doing. Just because you’ve played soccer, doesn’t mean you can automatically coach soccer, especially if you haven’t played in years. The hardest part for me was really finding a way to be assertive and commanding with the kids – the boys in particular – which for anyone that knows me should find that statement ironic as I am usually pretty quick to take control and be assertive in situations. It was difficult too that Hailey liked the idea of soccer, she played at school all the time, but has never really put out a lot of effort when it comes to sports. When she played softball, it was really half-assed on everyone’s part except Mike and Dennis who always made an effort to go out in the yard and throw a ball with her. But as parents, we were just as bad about getting her to practice every week as she was about putting in 110% when she was there or at games. So walking into the soccer season, she was really excited about getting to play on a real team, but lacked the skill set – having never played before – and lacked the passion for the sport that really drives you to give it your all.
Over the past three months, I have come to really enjoy coaching. We do not always win – we actually just won our first game last Saturday and tomorrow is our last game of the season – but that isn’t the most important part. It has been so amazing to watch these kids grow and learn how to work together as a team. The most amazing part though has been watching Hailey blossom. From the first game where she flinched every time a ball came near her and slowed down when an opponent came running at her to the last series of games where she is fearless and determined to be the best. She moves with a quickness she never had before. She plays with a passion that is inspiring and reminds me of when I first started playing and fell in love with the game. I look back and can remember the game where everything clicked for her; right before the game I pulled her aside and was telling her that she needed to be more aggressive, that she couldn’t be afraid of the ball or the other team, that as a defender it was her job to put herself in between the opponent and the goal and do whatever she needed to get the ball out of there. She was pumped up and ready to go. The ball came towards her and she connected perfectly and sent that ball driving hard down the field. The look on her face of shear pride in her accomplish beaming across the field made us all smile. From that game on she has really stepped it up and gives 110% every game. She hustles to be the first to the ball, she is always where she needs to be and is aggressive in both defending and attacking and is playing amazingly well.
She wants to play again next season and I am going to coach again. I am definitely looking forward to an all-girl team and a more traditional season and so is she. She is also looking forward to many years of playing soccer; a few games ago she was telling me how she wants to play soccer in college now. My boss’s daughters are soccer players too and I mentioned it to him. He quickly made the offer for her to come out watch his girls play on their club teams and said that she can be the ball girl for the university’s women’s team next season and she is so excited. My hope is that she continues to have this passion and continues to play as well as she has this season.