When my son, Nate, came home and said, “Hey Dad, guess what? I’m joining the kindergarten soccer team,” my first thought was, “I pity the fool who volunteers to coach 10 more of you.” Then he added, “I told Mr. Mascorro that you want to be the coach.”
Enter the fool.
A very short conversation ensued in which I pleaded with Moscarro to find somebody else, but I found out it’s entirely possible for a grown-up to take a 5-year-old’s words as a binding contract that not even the Supreme Court of the United States could render unconstitutional. Nate was instructed to not use my name or likeness in public ever again.
So in the following week I read The Horse Whisperer, outlined a practice schedule with drills, created name tags, started seeing my therapist regularly and called 19 parents for the first practice. You read that right; I was to coach 19 Padawans.
Although I do have experience coaching soccer, I was still apprehensive because I was never taught how to properly kick the ball while swinging an imaginary light saber, sticking my tongue out at a girl I liked and blatantly coughing on my teammates at the same time. Remarkably, this was easier than I thought; I only had to teach the kicking part because most of them had the latter items mastered.
It turned out I had plenty of help from another dad at the practices. I even received help from the players; all six of the group called the “nose pickers” (by their teammates) taught the others very quickly never to touch the ball with their hands. By the end of the second practice, I began to feel confident that we were prepared enough to turn the kids loose for their first game.
On the night before the game, that confident feeling went out the window when my wife received the DVD of Nate’s disastrous kindergarten play from another mom who created a copy for her. In it the kids who had lines forgot them, a kid dressed as a flower performed improv and the grand finale occurred when the kids dressed up as trees were fighting for space in front of the kids dressed like rabbits and squirrels.
Could the soccer game end like this? Needless to say, I was up all night.
Before the game, the kids looked great in their bright yellow jerseys. During the game all eight players crowded the ball and tried to steal it from one another. It was like watching the sun roll around a soccer field. The other team’s players stood and watched. The highlight of the game was when my goalkeeper ran off the field holding his hand over his backside yelling, “I gotta go poo-poo!” It was the save of the game.
By the way, we won. Nate is now allowed to talk about me again, but only if he refers to me as “Coach of the Year.”
Bryan Missey is an IT expert who has the ability to explain in great detail the inner workings of the latest technological marvel. The Oak Lawn dad likes to write about his three children, but if you asked him to explain their thought processes, you would most likely hear crickets.