Yes, it was a fun season
"This is going to be fun," he grinned. "He's going to be a great coach."
"How do you know?" I asked, neutrally, because I really was interested in what had led Big Guy to that conclusion so quickly. I suspected it had something to do with the coach's megawatt smile, plus the fact that he pumped Big Guy's hand as if he'd been waiting all his life to meet him.
"I just like the way he is. His face is nice, and he's funny. He's going to be a great coach," Big Guy repeated.
And although Coach G himself didn't know it at the time - he'd played high school and college ball but had never led a team, much less one at the pee wee level - Big Guy's prediction was right.
It takes a special person to coach kids this young, and not everyone has that knack. We've seen some coaches who bark so much that Dr. Seuss quotes start running through your mind: "I do not like that one so well, all he does is yell and yell." The kids notice it, too. "That coach is just pure mean," Big Guy said after a game against Old Yeller's team.
Mean? Probably not. But definitely lacking in certain skills that Coach G has in abundance.
You start the season with 10 6-, 7- and 8-year-olds, many of whom have never played the game beyond Madden on the Wii. Or maybe they've watched football on TV, but that means you have to disavow them of the notion that hitting the opponent as hard as you can is the goal.
"Grab the flag. Don't hit. Don't push. Don't grab the shirt. Don't pull down their pants," Coach G said as the team giggled. "Grab the flag."
You have to let them know who's the boss, and Big Guy provided Coach G that opportunity at the first practice.
"Is this necessary?" he griped when Coach G told the team to run a lap.
"Do you think it's necessary?" Coach G asked.
"Well, I do. You have to be strong and fast to play football. Now, everyone can run two laps," he said, smiling the megawatt smile all the while.
He laughed as they panted, and he laughed some more when they dramatically threw themselves to the ground at the end of the second lap. They were laughing, too, but no one asked for the rest of the season if running were necessary.
You have to figure out what makes each of them tick. That skill was Coach G's strong suit.
"Look, I know you can play quarterback," he told a meek-voiced 6-year-old, he arm wrapped around a tiny shoulder. "I've seen you throw the ball in practice. You have what it takes. You just need to believe in yourself. Get in there and shout it out the next time."
The team didn't win much - not that I even noticed the scores most days - but by the end of the season they were playing something that somewhat resembled football. I'll admit that I'd tittered when Coach G emailed a PowerPoint with play diagrams two weeks into the season, but slowly, Big Guy began to get it.
Most of all, they were indeed having fun. So much fun that one teammate burst into tears after the last game.
"I can't believe I don't get to play with them anymore," he wept.
We'll still see Coach G around. It's a small post and, besides, he's going to coach baseball.
"I hope I'm on his team," Big Guy said. "I don't think I could play against him."
That's Big Guy's ultimate endorsement of adoration.
Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.