04 December 2009


I did not play sports much growing up. Well, that's not entirely true, as we played lots of neighborhood baseball and stuff like that. There was a summer or two where we played baseball almost every day. But as far as organized sports I only endured soccer for a couple years, and no other sports. It just didn't interest me, and my parents gave me the choice. Plus I wasn't very good.

But despite my lack of athletic abilities, I remember fondly my two soccer coaches. One was Mr E. I don't think he knew much about soccer, but he was a good man, who gave a lot of his time. He wore cut-off jeans and his son played with us. The other coach, Mr V, was an immigrant who obviously knew the sport well. He had a mentally handicapped son, who was about my age, and the son would help with the equipment etc.. Mr. V was an exceptionally kind man. I remember one particular instance, in which one kid on our team who was overweight was being harangued by the rest of us for taking so long to do his laps, and Mr. V had a talk with us about it. And I am sure that he wanted to be coaching his son, not a bunch of stranger's kids, but his son was not able to play, so he treated us as his own.

I am remembering all this as I sit and watch my son being coached at wrestling. Now this is a sport that until last month, I had never even seen, much less participated in. But my son is much more into this stuff than I ever was, and he asked about wrestling, and it seemed like a good fit. But I sit here and watch these men come in 3 nights a week and organize a whole wrestling program completely as volunteers including Sunday tournaments. And what reminded me of my childhood coaches was when I saw one of the wrestling coaches coming into practice holding a daughter with Down's Syndrome. And he started the coaching session holding her until his wife could get there. And I remembered my soccer coach from 30 years ago, kindly holding his son's hand while he coached other parent's kids.

Why do they do it? They seem to take the responsibility as a fact of life. Whatever the reasons, I really appreciate it. Thanks guys.


Archer01 said...

A few years back I coached soccer even when I didn't have a child who played and I would have to say that the reason I coached was 3 fold. First of all, I have played the game all my life and love the sport with a passion so coaching came quite natural. Second, I also had a coach in my life that really inspired me to become a better player and person and I wanted to be that person for other children. I wanted them to have the experience that I had (and I knew I could give that to them). And thirdly, I had a sense wanting to give back to the community and "do my part" so to speak.

I don't coach any more but I miss it dearly. And still, to this day, I have kids come up to me that I coached that talk to me about when I coached them and they tell me that I was one of their favorite coaches. It really touches my heart.

I suspect some of the coaches you see today feel the same way as me.

CityKin said...

I'm sure they do.

I just don't know how they make the time. It is tough to carve out so much time from a busy schedule.

Keith said...

Right on point Archer01 !!

I've been a basketball coach for 12 years. At the beginning of the year, you always ask why did I ever do this..... but by the end of the year, you're always glad you did.

I started coaching because my dad coached for 20 years.He passed the fever to me and I felt obligated when my own sons became of age. There is more to it now than the obligation. It has become a dedication, but it is hard to put into words.

Perhaps its the warm fuzziness that you get when the group accomplishes something as a team for the first time or perhaps its the opportunity to teach little fuzzheads that there is more to a sport than just scoring and winning a game. Maybe an example will help:

One of my teams had just finished our final season together with a tournament championship. I've been coaching this team for 9 years and it was an experience to watch them grow into young men. In the locker room, you would expect shouts of joy and 8th grade boyhood machismo. Instead, we were all in tears (coaches too) because it was our last game together. It was a moving experience that gives me hope for the "future generation". You can't experience that from the bleacher side. That is why I coach.