"I'm right behind you, win or lose.
By Julie Miles
“Good grief. What had I done?”
After talking with J.D. at the Recreation Department, I agreed to coach my son’s four- and five-year-old soccer team. Barely out of diapers my last coaching stint, any memories on the finer points of the game were hazy at best. So I sought advice from friends who coached my children (and your children) through many soccer seasons, ambushing this gifted crew anywhere they crossed my path.
I trotted down the aisles of Hibbett Sports after Gary Gardner. Cornering Jamie Williams at home one Saturday morning, we dribbled balls down her driveway. Well, she dribbled; I sort of drooled. Kristie Gasque’s extensive e-mails featured pages of drills fashioned with smiley faces bopping soccer balls on their yellow heads. Innocently going into Ingles to buy a loaf of bread, Mark Smith ended up in the parking lot drawing XXs and OOs on a yellow notepad.
I hadn’t worked this hard for anything since trying to be the 98th caller for Rod Stewart tickets in seventh grade. With enough research to write a thesis on Micro soccer drills, there was one thing my mentor coaches had in spades – and honestly, I had very little. Enthusiasm.
“You’re gonna have a blast,” they universally cried. Kristie recalled large exuberant dog-piles after games. Mark perfected a Mr. Krabs voice to accompany a sure-fire Sponge Bob soccer drill. Jamie concocted a silly dance her players did if they touched the ball. Yet after all my study, I had no dance, no Mr. Krabs and certainly, no pile.
From whence did this coaching vigor spring forth? Slowly, I began remembering priceless snapshots from my teenage son’s "Bad News Bears" soccer games. Those children are now in high school, but I still vividly see five-year-olds in colored jerseys clumped as clover around a soccer ball or grabbing fistfuls of dandelions begging to go to the playground.
Funny, I overlooked the most important element in the coaching equation and the most obvious. My team: Celtic United – Bank of Madison. After receiving that first high five, leaping bear hug and “Hey Coach,” enthusiasm bounded back into my heart. No research necessary.
So to Ian, Joe, Michael and Fritz. Lincoln, Trace, Colson and Chase when I sadly hang up my whistle, remember these truths. Sprint toward your goals, pass graciously and don’t underestimate the healing power of a good snack.
I never won those Rod Stewart tickets, but this oldie of his sums up my thoughts toward you rather well. “May you never love in vain and in my heart you will remain – forever young.” Yes, that’s it exactly. Forever Young.