Saturday, October 15, 2011

Yes, I was THAT parent!

Lord, help me, I was that parent today.

So, I already shared that I am coaching my kids soccer team at the YMCA. Not because I have some inner desire to spread my version of this sport with the youth of the world, but because if no one volunteered, there would be no team. So I did. I had pretty much no clue what I was doing, but I did it.

My team - they are precious, truly precious, but very young and most had never played soccer at all ever. I have 5 yr olds in the team (how? I am not sure as this group is 6-8 yr olds, but whatever, the more the merrier, right?). So practices and games are more an exercise in keeping them from staring at their shoelaces, much less actually playing soccer.

Fine - we have had fun, we have played hard, we have played fair. Fast forward to today- now, you know you are in trouble when your little kids start to panic when they hear that we are playing this other team - let's call them.... The little Pele(s). Why? Because 4 pf the six kids are clearly brothers or close cousins who live eat and breath soccer. I have never - NEVER - seen anything like it. Foot work and plays that professionals would envy. It was amazing to watch - until it got ugly. Slam after slam, goal after goal, they fed off their victories like wild animals - each goal firing them up even more and the plays would get faster, uglier, harder and more dangerous. By the half - 4 of my 8 kids were in tears, from injuries due to unsportsman-like throws, kicks, or trips and just sheer frustration of never getting the chance to be anywhere near the ball.

At that point, I had it. I was done. I took a deep breath, walked right to the middle of the mob like parents and family of the other team. I confronted the other teams 6'4" coach and smiled my, I am gonna look like I am trying to be positive and thoughtful smile and not make a scene:

" Look, they are amazing, there is no doubt, but my kids are crying -CRYING!!! This is the YMCA - this is not a competitive playoff based league. People come here so their kids - ALL the kids- have fun. I am not asking you to throw the game, but come on - can ya move them around - pull some out for breaks? Change positions? Please - work with us here."

The coach kind of smirked at me like, sucks to be losers, I can't help that, and then the families all started talkiing around me in Spanish and laughing, like, can you believe this woman?

So I frustratingly smiled and turned right to the biggest culprits and said - "come on- please, let's not do this! Let's think of all the kids."

One mom just smiled irritatingly and said, "Oh, no, I didn't say anything," but then started smack talking in Spanish with her family,

At this point Mike walks up from across the field, saying in his thick Brooklyn bouncer accent- "Is there a problem?" to me. To which I said in the other team's direction - "No, we are good.... I think, we are good, right?" to the other parents.

Now, I will give props to the coach, he tried - but the parents of the little Pele(s) continued to egg the other kids on, and not much changed with them.

But things did change with us - I walked over to my team, huddled them up and gave them the speech I give them every practice and game. " when you are out on that field, I want you to have FUN, I want you to play FAIR, and I want you to work as a team. Just because they are playing harder and faster doesn't mean you don't get to play - that is not just their ball - you get in there and you attack that ball and take it away!!!"

And they did - but we didn't score a damn point. The other team killed us. But the second half, my kids played hard and I was proud of them.

The good news is, we don't have to play them again the rest of the season.

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