When I was a child (not all that long ago), I played soccer. I played every outdoor season, then played indoor soccer in between the outdoor seasons and sometimes even simultaneously. Let’s just say I played a lot of soccer growing up. (I played so much that my ankles are now about as useless as Nancy Kerrigan’s after a Tonya Harding crow bar session)
While I no longer play due to my competitive eating disorder, M is now playing soccer and I am truly loving it! Each Saturday the nostalgia comes bubbling back to the surface of the caldron that is my memory. The smell of the fresh-cut grass, the sideline chalk dust in the air, the overly loud soccer moms cheering on their little would-be Pele’s, and the list goes on. Suffice it to say, I love me some game day!
Even at the tender age of 6, the girls are quite competitive, M in particular. I don’t know where she gets it, but she has a wide competitive streak in her and a strong drive to win. (God knows it does not come from me…Hell, if I were out there, I would be swilling a beer and waiting for the ball to come in close enough proximity for me to fane a kick without spilling my drink. And all that running…Eff that! I get tired just watching them. Me, I roll up to the games with a dozen bear claws and go to town while my baby gets her soccer on…I kid, I kid…everyone knows I am a chocolate glaze kinda guy…)
Seriously though, as M’s games kick off, I start out calm and in my camp chair with the Wife and Lil b alongside the rabid soccer moms (& dads). As the action picks up, I find myself standing and starting to bark a few minor instructions to M. ” Cover #8!”, or “Get to the front of the net!”, or maybe “If she comes by you again, slide her an elbow to the temple!”, and occasionally “Shut-up, Ref! Or I will gut you like a fish!”
If we are not already pounding the other team into submission by this point, (we usually are), I start pacing the sidelines along with the coach at times. I start to give M more instruction. Mind you, I am not one of those yellers or arm wavers on the sideline. I am subtle…almost to a fault as M often does not notice me or hear me trying to get her attention. (I sometimes have to trip one of the opponent kids to get a dead ball so that I can get M into proper position) Needless to say, I am slightly involved in the game from a parent perspective, but not overly so like those crazy soccer moms. So, over the past couple of seasons I have been begged by M to coach and even been urged to assist by her current and previous coaches. Alas, I have held strong…until now.
That’s right folks, I am breaking the ole whistle out of retirement! And I must say, I am pretty excited. I have not coached since I was a junior in high school when I assisted in coaching a 5 year-old boys team to what I will now embellish to an undefeated championship season. (in reality, I was probably too hungover at the games to even know if we won…hell,did we even play? Was that all some bad dream?). Even if I am only going to be coaching in an assistant capacity, it is safe to say that I am not the only one who is a little excited. You should have seen (and heard) M’s delight. It totally made my day. (Now I am not regretting all of the threatening and coercing I had to do to get the current assistant coach to “step down”. I hope she regains the ability to walk again soon…)
I dropped the coaching news on M as she completed her final game of the season with yet another tick in the win column. I am quietly reflecting as the team huddles around the coach as he starts to hand out the hardware. And by hardware I mean the standard participation trophies that EVERY kid on EVERY team gets these days. I almost crap my pants (if you count sharting as crapping your pants, then yes, I did crap my pants) The size of these effing trophies is bigger than the largest trophy I ever received. Only, my team had to win a huge citywide tournament to get that trophy! We poured our hearts out on that clumpy dust bowl field to get that trophy! I will probably be buried with that trophy! (Just me, my trophy and that unfortunate Prince Albert jewelry) As M crams her participation loot into the family truckster, I am left to ponder what size trophies they hand out to the kids who actually accomplish something. If the size of these participation trophies is any indication, we are gonna need a bigger house…