Happy Spring, y’all. Here in Los Angeles, plants are blooming, my sunflowers are sprouting (as is my cilantro, chives, basil, dill, and aloe) and we’re on our way to sunshiny days and long afternoons winding into cool, short nights.
Soccer has started for another season, causing me to reflect on the last 11 seasons. I’ve been coaching since 2009, coached numerous sports since I was 17, I have been refereeing soccer since I was 15, and playing soccer since I was four. When people ask me why I started coaching soccer out here, I usually come up with a reason, but the real reason is that it’s all I’ve ever known. It’s who I am. It’s where I came from. Soccer runs deep in my veins, and life without soccer just doesn’t make sense.
This past week, the kids showed up on the field to learn the rules, play the game, and have some fun. Rule number one as a coach for me has always been “no hands.” Rule number two? Listen. Three is hustle, and four is “you’d better know the other kids names. Otherwise, how can you ask them to pass to you?”
These kids keep me young. Every season they ask me my age, question my choices for positions, and beg me to watch over and over again as they learn to punt, or throw the ball in, or simply learn to pass. They make friends (and somehow, always enemies) on the field, and someone always scores a sweet goal that ends in high-fives and consoling the goalie of the other team.
This week, we learned the word “abbreviated.” And “hustle” and what to do when the whistle bowls. We ran five laps. We played five minute quarters, and everyone wanted to play offense or goalie. There were tears, there were laughs, and everyone is excited to meet Coach B next week. I learned a few new names, and learned how to explain midfield in a way a five year old understands.
Every season I learn something new, learn how to teach things differently, and look forward to different smiling faces each week when I ask, “How was school this week?” and remind them, “I’ll see you next weekend. Good game, guys.”
Here’s to a 12th season, kids.