The soccer coach who’s trying to kill me
Me? I asked with mock shock. Oh, I don't run. Can't run, actually. They used to time me with a calendar in PE class.
You can run faster than your kid, can't you? he asked.
You've seen my kid, I countered. I haven't been able to outrun him for three years.
Well, maybe you'll be like that kid in PE class and won't get picked to play, he offered.
Oh, come on! scoffed another mother as she rubbed her baby bump. If I can do it, you can.
Appropriately chagrined, I wore running shoes to yesterday's practice. In my case, they should be called plodding shoes. I sat on the sidelines and hoped enough other parents would show up and I would be able to continue to sit. No dice.
Big Guy's eyes got wide, and then he laughed. "You're playing? I thought you didn't know anything about soccer."
"Oh, I might have some surprises for you," I said, and it turned out that I did. I scored a goal, which I'll count as only about a quarter of a point because the tiniest player on the team was at goalie.
Big Guy's eyes got wide again. "Game on," he said.
Except this was a game he was never going to win without teamwork - and that was the coach's point with the entire exercise.
It's hard to coach a scrimmage of 6- to 8-year-olds and have the kids learn anything from it. With an opposing team of parents, though, the coach could concentrate on directing the real players. The real team also would have bigger players - though in my case, not necessarily more skilled - to try to get around. The bigger players could cover more of the field faster - again, that offer doesn't apply in my case - which would force the younger players to spread out instead of hovering around the ball like sharks after chum.
And it worked spectacularly.
I saw a hesitant little first-grader learn to step up big and stop the ball on defense. I saw a third-grader deftly maneuver around me and speed away with the ball. Not that it took much speed - a snail with an espresso shot could have managed it. And I saw a kid figure out that what looks like an easy goal because he's close to the net isn't necessarily the smart shot to take if a teammate closer to center has an easier one.
Most importantly, I was able to reinforce that with Big Guy on the way home. "Did you see what coach was working on with A and J? Do you understand why?"
"Yes," Big Guy said. "It's harder to kick from an angle. It's easier for someone in front of the goal."
Wow. And my point was going to be "pass the ball."
Later that night, I got an email from the coach. The practice was great, and he'd love to do the parent game again.
I am 10 years older than dirt, and I do believe you're trying to kill me, I responded.
But I have to admit, the practice was great, as well as a great idea.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.