Friday, April 5, 2013

The story about that time I retired from coaching

Last fall, I coached my youngest son's soccer team.  Not voluntarily, actually, as strange as that sounds.  My husband had originally signed up to coach since it was the boy's first time playing, but then he ruptured his Achilles.

It's pretty much impossible to do any sort of coaching when you can't put weight on one leg for over two months straight.

I wanted to call the league and just tell them he couldn't do it.  I wanted to. Then he said, well you could just do it.  Which was true, of course.  Aside from the fact that I was fighting pneumonia at the time, I could.  I had two functioning legs and no legitimate excuses to use in an attempt to beg off responsibility.

The fact that I flail when I run wasn't a good enough reason.

By this point, I had over a decade of parenting under my belt, at least 7 years of organized sports, and had survived no fewer than 20 seasons of some kid playing some sport.  I'd managed to avoid coaching any of it.  On purpose.

I coached softball when I was in high school.  Helped my brother practice his goalie position for years and years and years.  Worked as a line judge for as long while he was on the field.  But I'd never coached my own kids, and I was totally fine with that.

Until the email from the league showed up the following day, saying they were short on coaches.  I knew I had to do it.

I had to try and teach a team of three year olds how to play soccer.

It was, um, an experience.

Yep. That's the word for it.

The first practices were okay, as long as you don't mind being interrogated by one mom about your qualifications.  Seriously.  That happened.

Then the first game came along.

Before that first game, me and the boy.
We did our cheer, everyone was adorbs in their little jerseys.  Then the crying started. They all cried. All but my kid, who quickly declared his role on the team as ringer.  (I've never had that kid before, so yay.)

They ALL cried.  For the entire game.  Even halftime was five minutes of snacking interrupted by teary sobs.

At some point in the second half, jogging up and down the field holding the hands of two crying preschoolers who refused to kick the ball, I looked at my husband in desperation.  Wishing it to be close to the end of the game.  He pointed at his wrist then stuck eight fingers up in the air.


I mouthed eight more minutes?????

Then I wanted to sit on the grass and cry too.

By the end of the season, we had made some progress.  Every kid had scored at least one goal.  They could all dribble, sort of.  During the last game, no one cried.  That was by far the biggest accomplishment of them all, by the way.

And you know I wanted to take a lap of the field with my arms in the air like Rocky while We Are The Champions played in the background.

On that last day, as I handed out the trophies to my team, I knew I was retiring.

I didn't get a single picture of my son playing soccer.  I barely took any of the girls since I missed over half of their games, stuck on a field with a team full of three year olds on the other end of town.

It was fun.  Exhausting, but fun. In some ways it was the longest eight weeks of my life.

I am happy to say that I'm enjoying retirement.

I'll be taking my chair, my coffee and my camera, firmly cementing myself on the sidelines where I belong.

Unless the boy asks me to coach again....


  1. Seven years of rec soccer coaching here. It was just my daughter crying on the bench for one of those seasons. It was during her rain storm terror days...and it rained every, single, game! Enjoy your retirement!

  2. Coaching is one thing I doubt I'll ever be asked to do, because I'm terrible at sports. The only thing I really stuck with in a competitive environment was swimming, but they always hire college kids or professionals to teach the local teams. So I'm hoping I'm safe! Enjoy your retirement!

  3. I don't coach, but I am on the local little league board. It is the worst job ever. No one appreciates you and you don't get paid for the full-time hours. My husband gets rooked into being umpire for the baseball and softball games several times a season. It takes several shots of whiskey and a lot of beer to make that pain go away. Totally thankless, but we keep doing it.

  4. Coaching sounds hard. Especially with such little kids. I remember my friends team kept kicking the ball into the other teams goal. Haha! Just getting them to run in the right direction was difficult. Hilarious, until that one parent that thinks their 4 year old has a shot at being a professional player and starts screaming on the sidelines about you not taking it seriously.


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