Then, I had kids. I live in a big soccer town. Where I grew up, soccer wasn't popular, so having my kids be able to start soccer so young was crazy to me. We started Monster in soccer when he was 4. He liked it. Thought it was fun enough. He even went to soccer camp for two years that was run by Otto Orf. If you ever watched soccer in Cleveland as a kid, you would know going to a camp run by Otto Orf is pretty damn cool. Since her big brother did it, of course, Sunshine also wanted to play soccer. Back when she was little, soccer wasn't open to anyone under 3. We got permission to sign her up at age 2.
We only had one season where both kids were in soccer. Monster decided he didn't like the competitiveness of it, so he was done Sunshine, well she loved it. We spent many seasons playing on some awesome teams with some amazing coaches. All of those coaches kids eventually moved on to travel or club soccer. We chose to stay with rec soccer since Sunshine is also in dance and softball. Since so many coaches left our league, a friend of ours decided that he was going to coach. I told him if he did, I'd assist. I had sworn, after a horrible season of coaching my darling darling daughter in t-ball, that I would never coach one of her teams again. Yet, here I was, years later, coaching soccer.
Never did I imagine how big of a part of my life coaching would become. When soccer was cancelled this season, not only was I sad for Sunshine, but I was sad for myself. I love coaching. Coaching brings me the same joy that teaching did when I first started teaching, back in the day when teachers could actually teach instead of muddle through all the bureaucracy. Of course I love watching my daughter play. She's come so far and is fierce on the field, but I also love watching the team play. I love seeing the girl who was timid and scared of the ball her first few times playing steal and make an amazing pass. I love watching the girls run plays that we did in practice and work together as a team. I love watching them grow into amazing players. I love getting to know the personalities of our girls and pushing them to step outside of their comfort zones because I can see where they will excel, even when they don't yet see it. It helps that the person I coach with is also great. We work well as a coaching team. We balance each other out. Over the past several seasons, our team has gotten to be extremely tough to beat. This season, with most of our players coming back to our team, we could have been undefeated. Being undefeated isn't important, but showing the girls how they work as team is. Our first season coaching, only two of the girls had ever played together, the other coach's daughter and Sunshine. It was a little difficult for the two of them to work with their team because they knew they could rely on each other. We got a lot of kids on our team who were new players. We didn't win a single game. Next season, we had returning players, so they knew how to work together a little more. Each season, we had more and more parents request us coaches. Fall season, half of our players actually played up a division just to be on our team. That makes you feel like you're doing something right. It wouldn't have mattered if our team was undefeated or not. These girls have finally come to work as a true team and they were robbed of that this season.
I would love to say that Sunshine and I spent our time off the fields fine tuning her foot skills, but we did not. Coaching your own kid is hard. She and I have gotten to the point where we only have one argument during a game per season, but practices are different. She does not like being told what to do by her mom. She does not like the critiquing of her skills, even though I'm doing to same thing to each player. At home, it's impossible to get her to do anything with me. I don't force it because I don't want her to lose the love of the game. Instead, I let her get out there and have fun and play with her brother and father and I try to keep my mouth shut.
I'm crossing my fingers that fall soccer happens. I can't wait to be with my team again. I never thought this would become such a big part of my life and I'd miss it so much.