man in the mirror…

in-between the summers that i worked for skyhawk’s sports academy, (when i was in college) i coached a club u13 boys soccer team with a friend…who lived down the hall from me in the dorms…

during one particular game, when i was coaching solo, one of my players knocked into a kid on the opposing team and got the ball…the ref whistled for a foul and their team got a free kick…the game went on like this for a little while and a few of their players got knocked down…at half-time, i heard some murmuring through the cadre of parents on our side of the field…so, i looked up and saw the opposing team’s coach stomping towards me…

when he got up to me, he said, what kind of team are you running here…ever hear of sportsmanship?! and then he stormed back to the other side before i could utter a word…the parents on my side got pretty riled up over the altercation (i know this is surprising, given the reputation of parents in youth sports;)

anyways, the game went on and we were down by a goal, then we scored to tie…then, we scored to win the game in dramatic fashion…at the end of the game, the opposing team’s coach came back over and apologized for his behavior…

it would be easy for me to make this guy out to be the bad guy for how he acted–who does that?!…but, truth be told (and despite the “ten attitude” influence), i was cultivating some of that same aggression and intensity in my own coaching persona–as a u13 coach no less?! when i look back now, i realize how ridiculous some of my own behavior was…

in one particular case, a friend came to watch a soccer practice i was leading…at this practice, i was playing alongside the kids in a scrimmage drill–and at one point, i got a bit intense and knocked into one of my very own players to get the ball…later, my friend called me out on my behavior saying, “took it a bit too far that time, didn’t you?” and she was right, i did…

at that point, i had to ask myself…what am i teaching these kids???

early on in my career, i made a lot of mistakes like this one…where i was too intense in my approach…or other times where i was too hard in discipline, too lax in discipline, often inconsistent, not gentle enough with my redirection, not encouraging enough, you-name it…there were a lot of rough edges when i first started out…but, by listening to/working with others…by going alongside skilled coaches, juvenile justice workers, youth directors and teachers–by going alongside masters–people who really knew how to herd cats well…i watched and i learned (over time)…

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