March 5, 2014 by kmwelden
In my ever-continuing quest to acquire a hobby that is not keeping up with 10+ television shows at a time (a hobby that I think is impressive and interesting, but strangers and future employers do not), I volunteered to help coach girls’ soccer at the middle school where I work.
Let me be clear– I have not stepped on a field in years, but I did play soccer from ages 6-18. I was even captain of my high school team junior year. (And then, inexplicably demoted to assistant captain my senior year. F you too, Coach Cannon.) Even when I did play, I was supremely average, and after a five-year hiatus, I am squarely mediocre.
Monday was our first day of tryouts, which is a term I use loosely. What we did have was 15ish girls: most in jeans, few who appear to have played soccer before, many of whom I know for a fact are academically ineligible, and a handful of non-English speakers. We began to scrimmage, and in my small brain, which immediately began flashing back to St. James High School glory days, I completely forgot I was playing against a bunch of twelve-year-old girls. And while my aim has really deteriorated over the years, my leg strength has not. I hit eighth-grade Jenny squarely in the face with the ball from about three yards away, and moments later clobbered a ball into another girl’s stomach.
Instead of stopping to assess the situation like a good (or even slightly qualified) coach would do, I completely ignored the two injured girls in my wake and continued to play. This was incredibly unprofessional, but more importantly, so stinking rude. They were not pleased, as evidenced by A) the rapid Spanish exchanges that took place immediately thereafter among the girls, the only word I recognized being “cabeza” (head) and B) the fact that Jenny huffed up to Jess (the other coach) to announce, “I’m so mad right now. I don’t like that other coach. She hit me right in the face and didn’t even apologize.”
I suspect that I was one misplaced kick away from a mutiny. Today was day two, and I tweaked my “take no prisoners/life’s tough get a helmet” strategy. I played goalie. The girls scored about 55 goals on me, and I promised them all pizza and ice cream after their last game.
They seem less angry now.