Soccer season is over. We (Blue Thunder) had our awards banquet last week. It was a great joy watching 12 kids all under six years old learn to play and love the game of soccer. They made it so much fun. Their parents made it so much easier with their support (I was so afraid I would have conflicts with parents, but everyone was great). My assistant coach and his wife, Ray & Mandy Orzechowski, were a tremendous help in every way. And last but not least my amazing wife was so helpful and especially tolerant of me throughout the season when I would sometimes spend hours tuning out the real world because I was thinking about soccer.
The coaching experience has taught me a few things and brought back parts of me that I had lost touch with. I learned new things about dealing with a group of small children. Being patient and remembering that they’re kids and letting them have a good time sums it up. I learned new things about working with other parents and coaches. I learned new things about leadership and character.
Some things I learned because I have children. Some things I learned by watching other parents. Some things I learned from other coaches (good or bad).
I’ll go ahead and get it out about the bad coaches – and I want to do it like I’m talking to them because some stuff really ticks me off. First of all, the rules are written in plain English, so read and follow them correctly – if you need help interpreting them I have a pretty strong command of the English language. Second thing, the kids’ safety is most important, so tame that brat who is intentionally knocking everybody down or put him on the sideline. I had an aggressive player too and I could have put him toe to toe with anybody to “teach a lesson”, but it was more important to show him how to focus his energy on playing with skill and sportsmanship. Last but not least, the kids are four and five, so stop yelling at them condescendingly. Some of you are acting like these kids are playing for the high school championship already. High school kids will play even if their coach is a butthole because they love the game. Four and five year olds will never learn to love the game if you don’t shut your stupid mouth. You wouldn’t get away with talking to my four year old the way I saw some of you doing. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Now back to something more positive. The good coaches were patient with the kids, allowing them to have fun over winning. (We weren’t supposed to “keep score” because an emphasis on winning or losing isn’t that important at four and five years old. I used to not agree with this, but I understand now because half of my team either couldn’t keep track of the score or thought they won by being the individual who actually kicked it in. So we didn’t focus on score. But between me, the other dads, and the kids who did understand – we were 7-1-2 for the season – that’s really good). The good coaches were effective teaching the kids how to play by doing the right drills and exercises. The best coaches taught their team sportsmanship and love of the game.
I’ll never say I’m the best coach, but I feel like I do a good job. I plan on volunteering some of my time to bring some of the players together in the off season to help develop their skill, sportsmanship, and love of the game. That’s the least I can do to try and be a good coach. It’s something I can do for my son and enjoy for myself. It’s something I can always be learning and improving myself, and it’s just a bonus that it involves a long time passion of mine – soccer.