So I’m coaching kindergarten soccer again, for the third time. I’ve decided that while the economy goes to shit and the swine flu takes over and people go off and kill their entire families with alarming regularity, I’m going to be rebellious and take the opposite tact: I’m going to play nice. Meaning I’m going to take any “extra” or “free” time I have and put it into something good for society. Maybe I’m becoming a hippy. Sure, soccer coaching might not seem all that important, but every season I have 7 or 8 families who entrust me with their 5 year old child for an hour twice a week, and they trust me to be a “coach.” Which, if you remember back to your childhood, is a big deal.
This past Saturday we had our second game of Spring Soccer. My team, The Butterflies (I let them pick the name and it’s different for every game – for the first game we were The Dinosaurs), was playing another team that didn’t have a name. And on that Team That Shall Not Be Named, there was one rough kid who started pushing kids and eventually tackled one of the girls on my team, sending her off with tears and an Owie. I told the kid to stop and I knelt down, got right in his face – remember, he was not on my team – and said, in my best “Don’t Fuck With My Team” voice, “If I see you do that again I’m going to go talk to your parents.” Which took care of the problem.
Or so I thought. The next thing I saw was the rough kid facing the other way and one of my boys (we’ll call him Jimmy) go up to him, from behind, and push him to the ground. I immediately went up to Jimmy and said “What was that? Go sit down. You’re out of the game.” Which, of course, made him cry. But I let him have a Walk of Shame, where he had to walk across the field, crying, to his parents.
A few minutes later, I asked Jimmy to come back in the game. I knelt down and talked to him. “Look, Jimmy, no matter what’s going on on THAT team, WE don’t play that way. Okay?”
“You want revenge on that kid, Jimmy?”
“You go score a goal on him right now. That’s the best revenge.”
Jimmy took the ball, worked his way down to their goal, and with a nice big kick, scored a goal. I was so proud. It was one of those moments in life – and they’re few and far between, it seems like – where I stood back for a second and said to myself, “Damn, maybe I DO know what I’m doing.”