As reported, I started coaching the boys' soccer team. Well, technically I am the assistant coach. Our friend, and former basketball coach/intense soccer dad, Carlos, is the actual coach. Our original plan was to have a 3-4 grade team with our two little ones, Jiro (second grade) and Santi (first grade), added on to appease their wants as well as for our own convenience. Jiro and Santi played up in the fall and proved to be tough enough to hang with the big boys.
Well, due to the fact that Carlos coached the 1-2 grade basketball team there were several other little guys who wanted on our team. Since there aren't actually any other Evergreen soccer teams this spring (lots of kids defect to baseball), we had a hard time saying no. So our 3-4 grade team is primarily 2-3 graders.
Thankfully, both Carlos and I seem to like challenges.
We've been practicing twice a week, and it's definitely been challenging. For me, the biggest challenge has been separating "mom" from "coach." Satchel thankfully has been mostly compliant and allowed me to be the boss. He has his moments, but overall the nine, almost ten, year old mind is a fabulous thing. He can be reasoned with and he understands that the world does not revolve around him. He has an innate sense of responsibility and understands what it means to be part of a team. He's just a little on the lazy side, preferring not to run anymore than necessary.
Then there's Jiro, my little beast. Well, he's beastly on the outside and biscuity on the inside. He basically thinks that since I am coach, that means he can run the show. There were many power struggles during the first few practices when he wasn't getting his way. (He thinks we should just scrimmage the entire practice and that he should get to decide where he plays.) Jiro's favorite position is goalie, but as you may recall, he was in a cast for the first six weeks of soccer. So we put him as forward and midfielder, which frankly he excels at too. In a game you can always count on Jiro to give 100%. Getting him to the game is the hard part.
Satchel, who is the tallest boy on the team, showed some promise as goalie in the fall. Since he is anti-running, he played goalie (for half the game as mandated by the rules) for the first two games and did great. We thought he maybe broke his wrist in the first game, but it turned out to be nothing, thankfully.
In our first two games, we focused on defense, with most of our big guys in back. Since we had a young team, we wanted to make sure the other teams didn't give us a real beating.
While this approach worked, we soon realized that without a strong offense, there would be no goal scoring on our part. So we mixed it up a bit. Jiro got his cast off and was super enthusiastic about getting back in the goal, and we pumped up our older guys to be aggressive on the offense. And it also didn't hurt that out of nowhere we got a new player with amazing ball skills. A-mazing.
So at our third game last Saturday, things were different. We saw action on both ends of the field. We saw our guys playing in position. We even saw some passing! And then, this guy right here got a break away, dribbled the ball all the way to the other team's goal, and made the most beautiful kick ever. Yes, my baby scored our first ever goal.
Of course I was running down the sidelines cheering him on the entire time, and after he scored I ran out onto the field to give him a hug. He was grinning from ear to ear and was so proud of himself. It was adorable.
And yes I got teased for running out there, but let me tell you...as long as Satchel was glad to see me, I was glad to be there. Mom vs. Coach is a hard one.
It was a really exciting game. We were up 2-1 at one point. (We had a hand ball in the box and they scored on a penalty kick.) They tied it up and it was a fight until the end. On a corner kick it looked like we got the ball in since it was definitely over the line, but the refs didn't call it. So we ended with a tie. No worries, it'll just make winning our next game all that much sweeter.
However, should we never win, it is still great fun to watch the kids progress. It really, really is. And it's also great fun to learn the ins and outs of coaching--knowing when to be hard and when to bend; when to push and when to praise. It's also challenging figuring out the perfect line ups, making sure everyone gets a fair shake, calling everyone by the right name, and not cussing in the heat of the moment! Wait, that kind of sounds like the challenges of being a mom, too. Huh.
Go Mean Green!
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