I have embarked on a new adventure as the coach of my son’s soccer team. I played sports growing up, and even had my Dad as my coach for many years. As a player, I enjoyed the competition, team building, and athletic skill building that sports provided me. As a coach, I get to experience an entirely different set of skills – that at times test my abilities much more than when I was the athlete.
I have to admit, digging my old soccer shoes out of a box in the basement brought back some good memories. I grew many friendships over the years from sports, and many of those friends were people I would have never met through school or other interactions. As athletes, we came together for an entirely different reason – to play, to learn, and to hopefully win at something.
My Dad traveled a lot for his job when I was growing up. But somehow, he made the time to coach my soccer team from the time I was five until junior high. That meant at least one practice a week and one game a week, not to mention the tournaments we participated in. Looking back, I am amazed how he was able to fit that all in. He enjoyed the teaching moments of coaching just as much as being a player.
I didn’t realize what an amazing thing this was until I became a coach. He had to get the attention of a bunch of five-year olds (and then some hormonal adolescent girls) to get them to work together, and most of all – have fun! As I started the first practice for my son’s team this past fall, to say I was nervous would be an understatement. Would I remember all of the rules? Would they take me seriously? Would they work together? Would this be a fun experience for everyone?
I decided pretty quickly that the best way for me, and my son’s team, to get integrated with each other was for me to get right into the action with them. So, I put on my old soccer shoes and shin guards, and joined in the practice. What I learned from that moment, is that you can experience what its like to be a player again, and also show your players how the coach guides the team.
When I think about the coaches I’ve had in my life, whether it was through sports, work or in life, there have been many. Coaches sometimes show up in unexpected places, but their impact is everlasting. The best coaches, for me, have always been willing to get into the trenches with you. They have the ability to see and understand your perspective and help guide you on a path of your own creation to success.
My hope for my young son is that he will continue to participate in activities that make him grow, and one day become a coach himself. Whether that coaching moment comes through sports, or through helping a friend through a tough time, coaching others is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.