Soccer season is just around the corner. I am a volunteer parent coach. I cannot stress enough that I am a volunteer. In return for coaching my son’s U8 soccer team I get…..nothing. No snazzy polo shirt that says COACH, no discount on the uniform or registration fees. Instead, I get the pleasure of arranging weekly practices and fielding phone calls and emails from multiple parents about snack schedules, sick kids, and schedule conflicts with birthday parties and ballet class. I also receive expert assistance from other parents (always the dads) who know better than I how to coach soccer. In contrast, when I go to my daughter’s soccer practices and games, I get to sit on a camp chair and read a book, watch the game or chat with one of the mom-clones.

Our teams stay the same for the fall and spring session, so I will have the same players in April that I coached last fall. When I received my team roster in August, I emailed an introduction and schedule to the parents. The same evening one of the dads called me at home and asked how his daughter ended up on my team. Apparently he had requested another coach, a friend of his, and wanted to know how I had stolen his little Beckham from the other coach when that was not what he wanted? After I had the child transferred (I made sure that happened very quickly) the rest of the parents were lovely.

The kids are great, all 6 and 7 years old, half with missing front teeth and a lisp. I love it when the sweet little girls with fluffy blonde ponytails get in the game and turn into sharks with cleats. My own son is not aggressive, and has appointed himself keeper of the first aid kit and fetcher of ice packs.

Last spring we participated in a Christian homeschool soccer league instead of our community league. It was much more relaxed, no little Beckhams running around. I felt uncomfortable laying out my Miller Genuine Draft lawn blanket when everyone else was wearing identical Bible Boot Camp tee-shirts, but they were all sweet and accepting of us heathens. In the end it was my daughter’s competitiveness that drove us back to our local league; apparently the homeschool team was too relaxed for her, what with no one knowing their positions or bothering to keep score.

My eleven-year-old enjoys helping coach her brother’s team. The little girls on his team idolize her and always want to be her partner in drills. Between the stars in the their eyes and getting to potentially boss around her little brother, she gets quite an ego boost. She’s a natural when it comes to bossing others. I sure hope that’s just a phase, and not the first step on the road to middle management.