I had no idea when I volunteered to coach my seven year old daughter’s soccer team that I would become a hero to her. I think that more than most things we’ve done in our lives together this single act has vaulted me in her eyes to ‘admiration status’. She often tells me that she is glad I am her coach, and she loves telling other people I’m her coach. “I bet you know who coaches my soccer team,” she’s fond of telling people. Then she springs it on them that it’s me with a smile!
I’m not sure why I took on the job, or what I expected. I know my daughter wanted me to be her coach, so I blindly agreed. I had no idea how much fun it was going to be directing my team of nine 6-7 year old girls! Truth be told I’m not much of a coach, but I know how to have fun which is all these girls really want anyway. We are in a non-competitive league that doesn’t even keep standings. Running up the score is frowned upon and can get coaches in trouble. We don’t have that problem.
My only goal for our team is that all our kids have fun and want to continue to playing soccer and other team sports in the future. I’ve got some really talented kids and if we were dedicated to the game of soccer I know I could get a lot more out of them, but I don’t think there’s a lot of fun (for them or me) in driving the performance of kids this young. So one of the first things we did was come up with a team name, the Twistin’ Tornados and a team cheer. We now have a dance that accompanies the cheer. And we have a scream.
Since we had some hot days at the end of the summer there were several practices where we broke out the hose in my backyard, stretched it out onto our practice field and sprayed down the players. I had a weak whistle, but decided to let the girls scream every time I would use a whistle at practice. We scream to start and stop play. We should be the Screamin’ Tornados. There’s no sound like nine little girls screaming on a practice field, as I’m sure the neighbors will attest.
Screaming’s not all we do, but it definitely highlights practice and keeps us awake. More highlights have included dogs and puppies at practice that have commanded more attention than me. Last week we had a tug-of-war with the chain we use to lock up the goal posts. My assistant coach and I ended up dragging the dangling girls across the field! I really have no idea what is going to happen next, and I basically go with the flow. After one practice a neighbor brought out homemade snow cones for everyone. I bring ice cream and cones to games and win or lose we have ice cream afterwards! The girls are absolutely loving it, and so are the parents.
We are now two games into the season, both classic contests. In the first game one goal was scored while our goalie nervously twirled her hair. One shot was blocked by the other team’s goalie and everyone on both teams stood around the ball staring at it for a full 10 seconds before the goalie finally grabbed it. These girls really don’t know what they are doing, which makes it very entertaining.
Highlights of our second game included a good old fashioned see-saw battle. In the end the other team scored 4 goals, ours scored 3. The great thing is seeing the way the girls develop, like one of our goalies who seems scared of the ball but wants to play in the goal anyway. Yesterday she literally ran away from the oncoming opponent. But she also stood in there at other times, and you’ve got to give someone like that a lot of credit for wanting to overcome their fears. There was also another girl who played goalie and a ball got behind her and trickled into the goal before she could get to it. The next time a ball did the same thing she was able to hustle fast enough to get to the ball before it crossed the line.
Learning, growing, getting exercise, being part of a team and having fun. That’s what soccer at this age seems to be about. I’m just glad my daughter thought enough of me to ask me to be her coach, and I’m happy I took the time to make the commitment. One thing is certain, I’ll never have this opportunity again, to coach my seven year old daughter in soccer. I’m not just watching my daughter’s childhood unfold, I’m part of it. That’s what being a heroic parent is all about.
Andy Falk is a father of two incredible daughters ages born in 2001 & 2003, Skylee
and Sabrina. Andy is very active in the lives of his daughters, from coaching soccer to supporting them during swimming season to just plain doing homework or hanging out. Andy also surfs regularly, bicycle commutes and is a successful Realtor in Marin County, CA. Andy earned his MBA from San Francisco State University with an Internet Marketing concentration, and holds a BA from the University of California at San Diego where he studied and surfed in the 80’s.