Nov 02 2016

Student, Cashier, Disabled, COACH

This season I went out on a limb and decided I was going to coach soccer. I played soccer for one season as a kid and I couldn’t tell you what position I played, I just remember standing on the pitch trying not to get hit with the ball. And up until I coached this season I was afraid to get hit by a ball. But my kids like to play kick the coach. So I get kicked. 

I only came to love the game of soccer watching the Women’s World Cup Final in 2015, watching the US win over Japan. 

Before that I had a love for a few players that I met at the Jillian Loyden Foundation galas in 2013 & 2014 (though I only met Jill in 2013) (and I swear a blog on those are coming), Jill Loyden, Christie Rampone, and Rachel Breton. 

Once I saw the women win, I bought my first ticket for a Sky Blue game (which was on my 23rd birthday) and the rest is history. I started writing for Once a Metro, I developed a better repoire with some players, with the coaches, and I desperately wanted to grow the game, especially for the girls. Because there won’t be a ne t generation if we don’t encourage them now.

So, as I was driving home one day, I saw a sign that the league in my area was advertising for player sign ups. I emailed the head of the league and asked if they needed head coaches/assistant coaches, that I didn’t know a whole lot, and I’d never coached, but I had such a passion for the game, I wanted to get these kids to fall in love with the game NOW, like I had in my 20s.

The rest was kind of a whirlwind. Coaches meeting, picking the colors for our kits, and me learning right along side my kids. Because I’m so used to dealing with adults that I realized when I’m on the field during a game telling them “STAY WITH IT!” they probably don’t have the slightest idea what I mean. There’s no positions yet, no one in goal (I coach U-7) which is good because I don’t have to worry about deciding who would be best in what position, but also a bit hard because you just have a bunch of kids running around the field. 

Either way, the title of coach isn’t something I take lightly. This isn’t something I do to fill free time. I coach for 2 reasons, 1) because I want these kids to fall in love with the game so maybe they can go on to be the soccer stars of the future. And 2) because I want to touch the lives of these kids, make sure they know that life in general isn’t about winning, that if someone takes the ball to go and take it right back and keep running it, that more than anything, they have to have fun, and they have to have a good attitude, win or lose (I’m not bringing up the next generation of bad sports).

Coaching isn’t a hobby for me, and it’s something that I’ve had to look at men & women I look up to who do play sports or coach them and say “what can I take from them, what lesson have they taught ME that I want to teach these kids.” 

Christy Holly (Sky Blue FC Head Coach), Christie Rampone (Um, Captain America), Rachel Breton (who honestly first got me thinking about coaching during our interview, though she didn’t know it {until now?}), Katie Hnida (my dear, dear friend who has been in my corner from the beginning assuring me I was going to be a great coach, and the first woman to score a point in a D1 football game during her time at UNM), Jill Loyden (former Sky Blue FC goalkeeper, former USWNT member, and keeper coach for Sky Blue FC), and so many others. Including (and this isn’t something I say often) my mom. “Coach K”, she coached me as a kid in softball, and she coached for a few years after that. All of these people (I keep wanting to type women but Coach Holly is a man so it doesn’t work) have taught me things they may not even realize, just by watching them and listening to them. I may only coach the little kids, but it’s important to impart some of this NOW, so when they get older it’s there to fall back on, whether they play sports or not. 

I’m not the best coach in the world (I’m pretty sure that title {in my humble opinion} goes to Christy Holly), at least I don’t think I am, but one of my kids today told me I was, which made me happier than I could say. I had a rocky start, I had a rough patch towards the end (being in the hospital does that), but I like to think that my kids learned a little something.

Yes, I work as a cashier. Yes, I’m disabled, I can’t run around the field, or I’d fall over. But I’m a coach. I share my love of the game with the kids I coach, and I do my damnedest to touch their lives in a positive way. I don’t want to be “the coach who doesn’t do anything”, I want to be “the coach who let us kick balls at her to show us it wasn’t that bad”, “the coach who showed us that when one of our teammates is hurt, we go check on them”, “the coach who isn’t all about winning”. I think I did a good job with that this season. 
Here’s to Spring 2017. 

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