a) I can give every single child the same chances, choices, options
b) I can put your kid where I want them and train them to do that job so that we can win games
There's been a lot of soccer in my life lately, and currently the t.v. behind me is showing what I'm assuming is this year's ACC women's championship between the Tarheels and the Seminoles. I'm kind of assuming the game is being played in the spring.
And I'm loving it! This week I watched part of the men's version of the same ACC championship, UNC vs. UNV, and I watched the US women's national team tie at one with Sweden. Earlier tonight I watched Manchester United beat Celtic three to nothing, and last night was MLS action, DC United versus Seattle Sounders with Seattle getting that win.
While the kids' soccer sign ups usually sneak up on me I got an email this time around to confirm whether I planned to coach at the U12 level again. So it's been on my mind a bit. You might even say that I've been thinking about it.
I may not have shared anything about last season, and I hate to have to say it, but we had an entirely losing season in the spring. I had a great group of kids that I'd love to coach again, and I think that we could have a totally different season this time around, partly because they'd go in knowing each other.
That was one of my complaints, and it's a complaint I had with my U8's as well. I was given teams of kids that didn't even know each other for the most part, though a couple kids did know each other, and there were a couple of pairs of kids that were friends with each other. And I recognized larger groups of kids on other teams as having been those same large groups before. I feel that left my kids at a bit of a disadvantage going into the season, and due to that and other random nonsense toward the end of the season really messed with their heads. They never got the chance to see themselves as the team that I saw, and I remain proud of what they were able to do.
But I'm not here to bitch about that. I think that having heard from the coach coordinator is an attempt to address a problem that's been recognized by more people than me.
I do want a winning team, but more than that I recognize that these kids are ten and eleven years old. My goal has always been to help them develop a love for and understanding of the game, to help them learn skills that will make them better players and to give them access to different positions. I don't want for a kid to think he belongs in a position without his agreement.
The key is to find the balance between a and b from the beginning of this literary journey. I doubt I'll be coaching U8 as we're going to find something else for The Boy. Soccer is so not his thing, and the only time he really wants to play is before the season actually starts. Once he's out having to actually run and play soccer he changes his mind.
And that's fine.
I'm curious to attend the preseason coach meeting, to find what players I have from last season and to see them again at our first practice as well as to meet the new guys. I'm excited to start working with them, to try this thing about balance where I push them to greatness.
And now for something sort of along the same lines and not entirely something different, and I get that it's a pipe dream, but I love the idea. Read on.
I may have another trick up my sleeve in addition to balancing the whole things I said, and it gets to my goals as a coach, and it gets to a concern I have always had with how I think I assume the parents see me as a coach. I could totally be wrong about their opinions I assume for them.
See, we live in a football town. I know already that, come fall, our soccer Saturdays will be a sea of orange in support of the local college team. Some of the families only watch soccer when it's their kids, but they sure as hell are going to watch the sports they grew up with and know and understand.
They just don't get soccer . . . yet. I'm going to attempt to give the families homework, though I'm not sure it will work. I'm going to give them watching soccer homework, and I'm going to request that the parents and kids watch as many game as is reasonable for them, assuming we can still get some soccer on the t.v. I want them to get it, to know what's happening, to understand why it's beautiful and why people love it.
I have a few weeks before I really have to worry about any of this, but those weeks are going to go by quickly while I'm not really paying attention because it seems so far away still. And then suddenly it'll be time. I'm excited.