Life Lessons From 13 Year Olds

This is my first season head coaching Snoqualmie Valley Rec Soccer.  It’s not quite what I expected… but this fall has been full of surprises on all fronts.  Nothing surprises me at this point.

I coach 8th grade girls.  I know.  You are asking yourself if I am crazy.  Sometimes I think I am.  I was an assistant coach to these girls for the previous three seasons.  A few have played together since 2nd grade.  I have been privileged to watch these girls grow up.  Many of them now feel like friends.

The girls head off to high school next year.  I wanted them to have one more season of being a team.  They have fun together.  I think this season has truly defined their heart and team spirit.  The ability to support each other and give everything they have for their team surfaced this year.

Have we won a game this season?  No.  Do we have three players with broken bones?  Yes – including my own daughter.  We started out the season with a roster of 18 girls.  We are now down to 12 including two who are playing hurt.

Yesterday they played their rivals – a team filled with many school friends.  We lost our first match up this season – and we hadn’t lost to them in a few years.  It bothered my team… but we moved on.  Yesterday was the re-match.  We played the game 10 vs 10.  In the spirit of an equal, competitive game the opposing coach agreed to play us at equal numbers since I only had 10 healthy players.  I commend him for this.  Many coaches would field their full team of 11 looking for the sure win.  Not Cliff Brown – so thanks to him.

My girls played their hearts out.  They ran hard.  They passed well.  They showed me they are actually listening to my teaching at practice.  They pushed themselves when they thought they had nothing left.  There was something new on the field yesterday.  I hope even the parents sensed it.  Sometimes when you push yourself to a new level you experience a positive high.  It builds confidence, character and self-esteem.

I saw this in 10 very tired and proud 8th graders.  Did we win the game you ask?  Nope.  It was a classic 0-0 tie.  My message to all you coaches out there… sometimes a tie feels like a victory.  If you don’t believe me then you should have witnessed the pride in my players’ faces when the final whistle blew yesterday.  I didn’t imagine it because I felt it too.

In our society it seems sports has become all about winning.  Yet they tell us rec level coaches to teach our teams something different… something more.  Something that seems to goes against the “win, win, win” mentality kids see in tv sporting events – or sports movies.  This has become my job so far this season.  I am not just teaching soccer.  Given the circumstances our team faces this year it seems I am teaching more than that.  It almost feels like I am teaching life.

My Shooting Stars are good soccer players and so much more.  I see them as good kids.  Fun kids.  Great team members with big hearts… filled with a never give up attitude.  They have become the definition of a true team.  I am proud to coach them.

Life lessons from 13 yr  olds… just keep looking and you’ll see them.  It is not always about who scored more points or goals at the end of the game.  Positive life lessons are also found in ties… and sometimes losses.

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  • WOW! Wouldn’t it be great if ALL coaches were willing to make it an even match and show such AWESOME Grace. What a wonderful story to read. Loved it!

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