The Joy of Coaching

coach image

You volunteered to coach your kid’s team, so now what? Well first, thank you.

Thank you for all the days when you're going to stand in the rain trying to get kids who want to sit on the ground to stand up and run around the field. Thank you for being the first person to practice every week even though you've never been the first person to anything, not even your own wedding.

Welcome to your one season of coaching. Please know that you will now be coaching this team for the next six years.

And to show our gratitude here's a handbook to help you through your first season. You're welcome.

  1. Certifiable. Now that you have volunteered to give all your hours for free, you might need to get certified. This may or may not involve a seven hour class in a town two hours away. Convince yourself it's a spa day, and enjoy the fact that someone else is watching your kids. Sure you'll only get a boxed lunch from Subway, but at least you didn't have to make it or clean it up.
  1. Cori who? Be prepared to fill out a form that will research whether or not you are a criminal. Because only someone dumb enough to become a criminal would be dumb enough to volunteer for coaching youth sports, apparently. Hopefully that crap in college that was a little shady has been expunged from your records.
  1. Name Game. Keep track of the whole entire game as you're coaching it. Because you will be expected to write a recap for the newspaper. Also the Facebook page. Also the team website. Perhaps Twitter. Also you will need to converse wisely with parents about how great each of their individual kids were during the game. Rest assured, every single player's name ends in IE and has at least two Ls in it so good luck getting their names straight.
  1. Orange Crush. Someone needs to bring oranges to games. Make sure it's not you.
  1. Dirty Water. You have to give them a water break during practice. So then they can tell you that they have to go pee in the parking lot Porta-Potty right in the middle of the “give and go” drill. The irony should not be lost on you.
  1. Competition. Remember that the other coach probably feels just about the same way about the game in the rain at 8 am on a 40° day that you do. Shake his hand to show respect and do everything in your power to keep the score within a five point differential. If this means not letting your team shoot, or conversely, having everyone pass to the only girl who can actually shoot with any hope of scoring, then so be it.
  1. Substitutions. Make a list. Check it twice.  Because you're not Santa. You're the coach that makes sure that every single girl on the team plays for the exact same number of minutes. Exactly. Because there will be parents on the sideline with a stopwatch timing it. You know this because that used to be you.
  1. Whistle While You Work. Which is to say, buy a whistle. Just do it. Because the coach that says that coaching youth sports is like herding cats was being optimistic. Seriously optimistic.
  1. Hurt. Bring those crappy little ice packs that you snap in the middle. Plan to hand them out like party favors. Because saying to a little girl who has just been hit by a lacrosse ball, "You're hurt? I'm sorry, I can't help you with that," is not an acceptable thing to do. Trust me.
  1. Tears for Fears. You may not even know why there are tears. It may be because her parents didn't feed her any food this afternoon, or maybe because she stayed up until 11 pm last night watching reruns of The Simpsons. It may be because there's some social thing going on with the complexity of The Heathers that you will never understand. It may even be because the player is your daughter, and she has chosen 5 pm every night as the hour to hate her mother. Every night. Pat the crybaby on the back, tell her you're sorry, even though you don't know what you're sorry for. And then hand her an ice pack. It's all you can do. Then walk away. Walk. Away.
  1. Hug It Out. There will be hugs. There will be so many hugs from small children coming up to you and hugging you, that you will keep thinking that they are your own children until you kiss their hair and realize that they smell cleaner than your kids. Even after you call them out for rolling their eyes, or throwing the ball into a crowd of kids, or hogging the puck, they will eventually come over and give you a hug. It may seem like a really sweet thing at first, until you consider the fact that it is probably their way of ensuring that you will be coaching again next year. So they can torture you more.

Surprise! You're also responsible for the snack shack, uniforms, team photos, jamborees, checks for refs and equipment.  But no one knows anything about them. Trust me. So, good luck with that, too.

Someday if you're very lucky perhaps your grumpy daughter will grow up to coach your granddaughter's team. We call this the circle of life. If there is a god, you will tailgate those games with mimosas and laugh until you cry. It's literally the least you deserve.

Congratulations and welcome.

 

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Author: Jen Groeber

Jennifer Groeber is a mother of four, artist, writer, and blogger. You can read about her escapades parenting, reliving her childhood and obsessing over Bruce Springsteen at jen groeber:mama art

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