Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose (or, My Journey From Soccer Mom to Soccer Coach)


A few weeks back, our boy started begging us to let him play soccer “for real, not just at school.” We had planned to get him into team sports next year, but since he was so persistent, I started looking into opportunities for this fall.

I’m new to this whole “soccer mom” thing. I didn’t realize that sign ups for fall sports ended in August, and that many of the leagues fill up quickly. So, at first pass, it appeared that I missed out on it for this fall.

However, my boy is not the only persistent one in the house.

I started writing to league directors in our neck of the woods and asked if there was any way to squeeze our boy onto a team. To sweeten the deal, I offered to “volunteer in any way I can.”

I heard back from a YMCA league director very quickly, who said that he could get my boy onto a team, and, as a matter of fact, they need a coach for one of the teams in his age bracket.

Did I mention that Friday Night Lights is my favorite television show ever? I know, it’s not about soccer, it’s about football. But Coach Eric Taylor is a hero of mine. And I’ll never be asked to coach football. So this was my shot!

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!

Now, I played team sports throughout my childhood, including softball (six years), volleyball (two years), basketball (one year), and track/field (one year). So I’m pretty athletic. Always have been. And I have played soccer informally in El Salvador with the children at La Casa de mi Padre. But I never actually played on a team or learned any real strategies.

That’s why there’s YouTube.

So, in the span of a couple of emails flying back and forth, I went from being a soccer mom to being a soccer coach, and began a crash course in drills and rules and strategies.

In the week before I started leading practices, I fulfilled the background check, fingerprinting, and child abuse prevention training required of all YMCA volunteers, and as of this past Friday, I was Coach Christy. We had our first game on Saturday, and I was all adrenaline as I did my best to give the kids a positive first game of the season.

We lost by a landslide, but boy, did we have a blast. I learned a lot and now have a strategy for our next practice. And every child left the game having been told how proud I was of them and how glad I was that they were on my team. I hope that, win or lose, they always know that I am happy to be their coach.

You never know where life is going to take you. I say that often. I’ve been saying that a lot since becoming a foster mom. The Holy Wind blows your sails and suddenly you’re in completely uncharted territory, wearing a tee shirt that says “COACH,” holding a clipboard with your team roster, inviting them to “take a knee” for the pre-game huddle, and then screaming at the top of your lungs things like “hustle!” and “defend the goalie!” and “follow the ball!” and “stop dancing!” as you run up and down the sidelines chasing a bunch of five, six, and seven-year-olds.

And having a blast.

I don’t know what to expect from the next eight weeks or so. I am hoping for a few goals. I am even hoping for a win or two. But whatever comes, I am so very glad for the delightful surprise that I get to be a soccer coach.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

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