March Dadness Revisited

The spring soccer season just ended for my daughter, so I went back and re-read my March Dadness post. Here are a few things I learned about  kids, coaching soccer, and my daughter.

1. Kids are resilient – I anticipated tears this season. It wouldn’t have shocked me if my daughter cried on my shoulder about losing or not playing. After all, this was her first time in team sports and she is having to learn how to function in a new environment. Could she handle losing (we certainly did) and sitting down (she certainly did)? The answer is yes.  Not one tear. Zero. She was happy to play, she was happy to take a breather and enjoyed the experience. Turns out the whole team was like that. The worries of March were but wasted time.

2. Kids  listen and get better with practice – Did you know I speak Navajo? It’s true (no, it’s not) because that is the only explanation for why our team just threw the ball to the other team after being asked not to. As the season went on with practice and games, however,  the girls started to do things differently. They got better at throw ins, passing, setting up to defend corner kicks, and figured out that kicking the ball to the other team is not always best. I guess they knew Navajo all along.

3. Coaching is hard, but fun – The second game of the year, the real coach couldn’t be there, so I was asked (along with another dad) fill in. I played soccer 25 years ago, but was not what you would call a “student of the game” or “coaching material”. Turns out, I could do it. As the year went on, I continued to help coach. I found myself wanting to do it. The hard part was when they looked at me in between quarters for what to do next after being down a few goals.  The fun part was seeing them continue to play, get better and enjoy the game.

4. Expect Something Special –  After the first game of the year it was my belief that my daughter wouldn’t score a goal. She was a little lost, unsure about how to react, and not as fast as her team mates. I didn’t think she enjoyed it enough to stay with it. In the final game of the year, a team-mate passed the ball to my daughter and she took a shot. GOAL!  Her mom and grandparents were sitting right behind the goal and cheered loudly. It was perfect! She traded hugs with her team and they were happy for her – she just lit up (me too).

In the end, my daughter ran harder, was in better position and was more confident. She decided to play in the fall even before she scored the goal (that was the cherry on top). I have to remember she’s just a little girl, but is getting older and her confidence is growing. Even though she didn’t need my shoulder to cry on in this season, she knows it will always be there for her.

March Dadness

Madness is in the air.

After all, it’s March and the NCAA tournament is in full swing – 16 teams remain. All the number 1 seeds survived, but the number 2 seeds were not so fortunate.  The first and second rounds have played havoc with office pools. In addition, the Peyton Manning saga has been in full swing. Nashville was a host city for the opening weekend of the tournament, yet local media seemed focused on Manning (at least when I was listening) and if he would become a Titan.  Spoiler alert: he did not. Shocker.

Around the home, madness is in the air. So far in March there have been two birthdays, out-of-town family weddings (including my sister!), allergies, cutting the grass (more allergies), planting the garden, work-life challenges, a drop in exercise and I’ve been neglecting my morning quiet time. Now add to that a brand new madness starting tonight – my 6-year-old daughter has her first soccer game!

As a dad who played a few youth sports and enjoys competition, I have mixed emotions. Is she prepared? Will she get hurt? Will she be a good sport? Will she make friends? Will she lose or gain confidence? Will she enjoy playing team sports? I remember being her age and playing youth soccer in my hometown and LOVING it. Thinking back, my skills were OK, and what I lacked in that department, I made up for in competitive spirit, but that was me (in youth basketball I was once on a team that scored only scored 7 points in a game – I was discouraged, but wasn’t allowed to quit – glad I didn’t). I want her to enjoy soccer – and if she loves it, that will be fine with me – but I don’t want to make her love it. After all she is only 6 and has her whole life in front of her.

So tonight at 6pm my bracket, my work demands, Peyton, the yard  – all get put aside.  I will sit with my wife and son and watch soccer. I will cheer her team – The Swans – and  I will cheer for her. If they win, I will celebrate. If they lose, I will lend a shoulder to cry on ( that’s what my shoulders are for these days) and encourage her to stay with it. Either way, tonight at 6pm, the twisty road of being a dad takes a new turn and I will need to be ready to jump in.

Let the dadness begin!