Yeah, that’s my record as a soccer coach.

When Alex was six I went to sign him up for soccer. When I was a kid, nobody played soccer, at least no Americans -but this was 1996, and in 1996 American kids played soccer. Everything went well until I got to the volunteer table. “How’d you like to coach,” they asked. Coach? I told them I didn’t know the rules or the positions. Or exactly how the game is played. “That’s not a problem. You’ll learn.”

So I got a video from the library and watched the whole thing twice, taking notes on drills and writing down bits of jargon. I went to Dick’s and got myself a whistle and a soccer ball. And cleats.

At the first practice my two assistant coaches saw the cleats and whistle and figured me for an expert. I wasn’t about to tell them otherwise. The parents were asking questions, but not about about soccer, all they wanted to know was if we had a popsicle schedule. The kids were out of control. It was chaos, but as unqualified people everywhere know, enthusiasm is a good substitute for skill. So I got enthusiastic.

By the end of the season I was suspicious that the player selection had been rigged. Every other team had a couple of highly skilled kids who held things together. My team? They were prone to daydream and run in packs —and there wasn’t a decent goalie in the whole bunch. We lost every week but everyone played, everyone had fun, and everyone had popsicles after the game.

4 thoughts on “14-67-7

  1. When I was growing up in the ’80s, children played soccer. I played for three seasons and none of the teams I was on ever won a game. I think we tied a few.

    That was, however, the peak of my athletic career. It got worse from there, because at least nobody on those teams made fun of me and I didn’t fall and hurt myself. Plus I spent a lot of the time that the ball wasn’t near me picking flowers.

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