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May 09, 2010

The Coach's Wife

Soccer ball:net We have avoided organized sports until now. Partly by design as I distinctly remember my single self watching in horror as my mom co-workers surrendered what little free time they had to evenings and weekends consumed whole by practices, games and tournaments.

That will never be me, I vowed.


And it hasn't been. Our daughter has never expressed anything but the most luke-warm interest in organized sports. Until this spring.


She handed me the information sheet on outdoor soccer with an expression that let me know she was gunning for my free-time in a serious way.


"Are you sure?" I asked her. "There is a lot of running. They play outside in the cold, rain and sometimes even snow."


I didn't add - "and you're kind of a weenie" - but I am sure she heard that anyway.


"I don't care. I want to play this year," she said and made that face. The one my husband says she inherited from me.


What followed was a mental sigh, one as heavy as if I'd set it free.


Our local soccer league is a strictly volunteer organization. Currently it is running at a quarter percent of the volunteers it needs, which means that parents are told early on that volunteering to coach is a good way to ensure your child won't be cut if it turns out more kids than adults have signed on for the season.

My husband held out to the last minute. He let it be known that he would coach, but only if they really needed him.

"I am too old for this," he told me when the email came informing him that he would indeed be needed. "I've done this and I wasn't all that thrilled the first time around."

My step-daughters are grown women, so Rob's coaching days are a good dozen or more years behind him. Although he is a hands on Dad, he has more miles on him than the majority of Kat's friends' fathers. Running around after a round ball on a chilly May evening is not something he pictured himself doing at nearly 50 years old.

"I'll help, honey," I assured him.

"You bet you will," he said. "I am not going to coach ant ball alone."

The first week of soccer our unseasonable warm spring weather beat a quick retreat, making way for cold, rain and eventually snow. The initial practice found Rob and his co-coach standing in a steady rain under the glare of wet, unhappy parents as seven year olds darted wildly about in total joyous abandon.

"What should we do first?" he asked his partner, a nice guy who tossed out a few ideas for drills but had no clue how to gather and focus the attention of small children intent on running amuck.

Not having planned to do anything other than radiate support, I dug deep in my memory and pulled out my teacher voice. I didn't spend twenty years in a public school classroom for nothing.

"Okay purples, let's all line up on the white line in a single file. It's time to get started!"

Much to the surprise of every adult within the sound of my voice, little bodies flew to their designated area and stood not all that still but gleefully anticipating.

"There you go, hon," I said. "Go coach."

Several days later as we chatted about the next practice session during our daily afternoon phone catch-up, I asked,

"So do you have a plan for the next practice?"

"I thought I'd leave that up to you," he said.

"Oh no," I replied. "I'm muscle. You're the brain."

This is an Original 50-Something Moms Blog post.

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