Saturday, October 20, 2007

monkey keeper

Warning: gratuitous soccer post, coaching and talking shit on poor, wee widdle kids (not really, the last part at least)

One of the concerns I had going into this season was goal keepers. AYSO U8 keepers don't use their hands, not at all sure why, but in U10 they do. Not only was this my first season coaching this age, but many of my players were new to this level as well. I'm also not a keeper in any way, so I was worried that I wouldn't be able to help my keepers do their job well.

What I didn't expect was for nearly every single kid to express an interest in the position when I asked them all that very first practice. Through the first few practices and even the first two games I rotated most of the kids through the goal. I could tell a few that didn't flinch and seemed able to catch a ball, and the two kids who came to take most of the weight of the position really stood out.

In the end, a drill that occurred to me randomly one night was what came to fix the problem. Even as late as a couple of games into the season, I still had more wannabe keepers than I really wanted. Enter Monkey in the Middle: Keeper Edition.

Even assuming most people know what monkey in the middle is, I'll explain it here to be sure. One kid is designated The Monkey. The rest of the team forms a rough circle around the monkey, hopefully at a comfortable passing distance between players across the circle from each other. The object is for the players making up the circle is to pass the ball across the circle to each other while successfully avoiding giving control of the ball to the monkey. The monkey remains inside the circle until he is able to gain control of the ball at which point he and the last person to touch the ball exchange places. You're not supposed to want to be the monkey, but for some reason I always get the kids that do in fact want to be the monkey.

Monkey in the Middle: Keeper Edition is simple. Using cones, make a circle spacing the cones the width of the goal. You should now have basically created a circle of goals. Into each goal insert one possible potential keeper. Into the middle of the circle place one coach and as many soccer balls as you have. Previous to this you've covered what the keeper is allowed and what is expected of him. Now take turns chipping shots at the kids. Actually take shots at the goal, but place them around the keeper and make them work for the ball. If they stop the ball they give it back. If not they get to run and chase it while you take aim at the next poor, wee widdle player.

This drill, if you have enough kids clamoring for a chance in the goal, gives them all some practice. It could really be a decent drill, and I'm sure someone has already thought of it and uses it quite a bit in keeper clinics. It wouldn't be the first time I thought I'd thought of something that someone else had thought of long before me. What it did for me, in the end, was help me narrow down my list of keepers to two and forced its own demise. I don't get enough time during the week for practice to focus too much on the keepers, so I make sure to come up with games and drills where they can take shots from their teammates. But I'm keeping this drill around for the next time I have more keepers than I need and need a good way to nudge the kids in other directions.


The closest I've ever been to wasabi has been the little dollop that comes with sushi. I'm not a big fan of sushi though, so it's been fairly seldom that I get close at all. Momma does sometimes fix the boys up a box of sushi before she leaves work, so there are those random times that wasabi is in the house, but even then it's just that li'l dollop.

As for my sushi non-fanedness, it seems a travesty to not like it. I'm astounded by the simple beauty of a well put together plate. I don't like nori at all, and I've gone out of my way to try seaweed in a number of presentations. I just don't like it. As for the raw fish, I don't have any issues with the rawness, which is often the deal breaker for people. I do have some weird textural issues with the fish, and I'm not generally a huge fan of fish anyway. I do like a few fish cooked, such as red snapper and calamari, and I've been known to enjoy a well cooked scallop. Ceviche I'm fine with assuming it's made well and with good ingredients, though I will hit a limit. Working at the titty bar and running to Hooters for the dancers taught me that I could enjoy crab legs, but I'll willingly admit that in that case it could very easily be about the fact that they give you melted butter as a dipping sauce.

Yes, I did in fact just call melted butter a dipping sauce.

mmmmmmmm, butter

The thing to remember here is that none of that is the point. We must now get back to the wasabi that is the true anti hero of our tale. Anyone who's ever worked in a sushi bar can apparently most assuredly tell you, and Momma in fact told me with the words, "I can't believe you just did that." Well for fuck sake, she didn't warn me, and I didn't damn know.

Backstory, Momma did a sushi class tonight for a bunch of young teen girls. Imagine that for a moment. Anyway, after finishing the class she came home with her supplies, carrying boxes and bags, and I began helping her put things away as she discussed her evening. Of the supplies, one bag is full of containers containing various vegetables, red peppers, cucumber, carrots, and in the bottom the last smaller container. The one with the little ball of wasabi that you have to have with sushi even if the kids don't want it.

"Oooo, wasabi," or something similar I say, pulling the container out and lifting the lid. I do like wasabi somewhat, not not being a fan of the pungency life brings.

"Yeah, they weren't interested in that all," Momma says, not bothering to warn me against what I'm about to do. "One girl might have tried it."

I know pungent and that some smells can get you. I've never before tonight however felt flames engulf my brain. As I stuck my nose into the wasabi container, inhaled not nearly lightly enough, I felt so many sensations in the briefest of moments. I felt the wasabi tingle the tip of my nose with a mere spark of intensity that quickly turned into some white hot burning that rushed to the back of my skull. In all honesty, I felt the flames race in a perfect arc, up my nose to my brain where it traced a route over the very top only to end in a whole extra and unnecessary burst of pain in the very middle of the back of my brain.

I almost think I can feel it still, the place in the back of my brain where the wasabi flames ended. I'm almost certain that I can taste wasabi on my brain with my mind. I'm also fairly tempted to do it again, and I know better and that it can't end well, but damn if that wasn't one of the fucked upedest things ever.