Crushing dreams since they were little


I just finished a survey about my son’s soccer coach.

Btw, WTF’s up with surveys? Everyone’s doing one. You buy a cartoon of milk, and there’s a survey in your email box. I even received a robotic call asking for a survey about his new Pulmonary doctor over the phone, using the digits as answers. I don’t get it.

Anyway, back to his Premier coach who is probably a nice man. From what I hear, he’s a great soccer player (played for the Timbers) and coach. The boys are lucky to get him this late in the game. I rated him accordingly, ’cause I’m not a dick.

They had a great coach. Tasked with the challenge of piecing a B team together after the clusterfuck known as the 2016 spring tryouts, he dove in with relish. Not only did he have a great love of the game, he grew to love the boys, as if each one of them were a part of his own team on the way to one of the most important victories in a major, worldwide match.

That’s how deep his passion went. Like everyone on this planet, he had his good and bad points, but you could never take that passion away from him. He was one of the boys. He also inspired those boys to give their best; any fool could see that in any of the games the team played in this past summer’s tournaments.

A ragtag team like this wasn’t expected to win any game. But they did. A lot of games, actually, together, with a lot of blood, sweat, and even tears. Totally inspiring, I’ll never forget what he did for them, for my own son who had to find some way to fight back after a terrible rejection trying out for another Premier league.

“He’s the best player on the team.”

Coach actually said this before the league replaced him two games into the fall season (for reasons we’ll probably never know). When I told my son, his face grew momentarily dark, tears threatening, as the impact of that sunk in. Someone in a position to know noticed him as an outstanding soccer player, an asset to the team, any team.

Teenaged boys may seem tough. But deep down, they’re still little boys eager to please. For a coach to recognize them for their special qualities in the midst of demanding their best, that’s everything. It’s essential as they begin the long, hard road toward that cold, cruel world of adulthood where it’s every man for himself.

Tough love in a coach is well and good. But a little love in the right direction can do so much to inspire confidence.

As they get older, I don’t see a whole lot of passion or compassion in the adults these teens interact with, least of all in sports. Last night, I watched a soccer practice where another coach (for a higher-level team) just ripped into one or two players he singled out to make a mockery of. He singled my son out too, made everyone feel like He was the ONLY one fucking up. (My son was training up for extra-conditioning.)

I don’t know how that inspires anyone to get better, and I came from that world. My father was a strict but compassionate coach of basketball, football, and baseball. He led his teams to statewide victories as well. Never did I see him publicly humiliate a player in front of the rest of his team to get what he wanted, or to toughen him up.

I don’t mind coaches getting tough with players at all, though. But when that’s all I see, I have to wonder who is the coach and who is the player?

Do you even see my son or is he just a number?

My main worry as a parent was this particular coach coming down so hard on these boys that they begin to believe the so-called tough love spewing out of the guy’s mouth non-stop like a bad case of the runs. As in, maybe I’m not cut out to play soccer after all. Maybe coach is right, and I wouldn’t know how to pass properly if my life depended on it. Maybe I really suck, hey, I should quit.

I hope not. The adults in charge have already done a number on my son about education and other sports he was once gung-ho about, basketball and football namely. (And, he didn’t suck at any of these things.)

I would hate to see him let go of the last dream left because of some high-priced stranger’s idea of perfection.

It’s too bad. They’re missing out on a great kid with a lot to offer.


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