Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Soccer "Practice"

Big Brother had his first (loosely-termed) soccer "practice" on Monday. It was quite fun (and eventful).

As you may remember, Busy-Dad-E was quickly promoted to the rank of coach by volunteering to "help" with the team. Or, as defined by the YMCA dictionary, help = you get to do it all yourself, at least until you can con, I mean "recruit", another parent to be your assistant.

Things started off on the wrong foot (literally) as I managed to bring two mismatched tennis shoes to change into at work. (Note to self, turn on lights when picking out shoes for soccer practice).

Many thanks to Mom-E for bringing the correct shoe before the start of practice. Congratulations, you're the grand prize winner of about a bazillion "wife points" for saving me from a great first impression on all of the parents:

"Hi, I'll be teaching your child how to play soccer, even though I haven't played organized soccer in about 20 years, and I can't seem to even match my own shoes."

I imagine at that moment the YMCA's lawyers were already drafting a memo to change their definition of "help."

Big Brother arrives to the practice field and is VERY excited about playing soccer. So excited, in fact, that--yeah, you guessed it--he has to go potty. I query the YMCA soccer coordinator about the whereabouts of the potty (I mean, surely you didn't assume that 25 3 and 4 year-olds who just mobbed the soccer fields wouldn't have to pee at some point?!?)

With a smile, he points to a tipped-over port-o-potty in the distance and says, "That port-o-potty blew over recently, and "they" were supposed to pick it back up. Maybe the church (where the fields are located) is open?"

Huh?!? Who's "they"? Even if "they" did put the port-o-potty up on it's proper side, would I really want my son to go in there, lest the flesh-eating bacteria consume him like those scarabs from "The Mummy"?

Guess what? Surprise! The church isn't open. Again, I don't know why they wouldn't want a tribe of 3 and 4 year-olds roaming around inside after business hours?

By this time, poor Big Brother has had an accident, being unable to hold it any longer, and lacking an inconspicuous place to "water the grass." Fortunately, we have a spare pair of underwear. Unfortunately, the only pair of sweats we have are now mildly soaked (and it's an uncharacteristically chilly day). Of course, Big Brother refuses to wear the hooded sweatshirt that would at least cover-up some of his pee-soaked pants.

Again, I imagine the impression I'm about to make on the parents:

"Hi, I'm your child's soccer coach. This is my son, Big Brother. He, uh, spilled some water on his pants because he was so excited about meeting everyone. Yeah, that's it."

Amazingly, everyone on the team has arrived within 5 minutes of the start time. Even some people who weren't on our team tried to practice with us. Apparently, either we looked very official and organized (doubtful), or they didn't know what the heck they were doing (much more likely).

We shoo off the "spies" from the other teams, and start out with some "circle time" to do introductions. I try to get everyone "pumped up" about having fun playing soccer. The parents do a nice job of introducing their children, who appear too struck with fear to speak, and cling all the more tightly to their parents.

And so, we move on to do some "drills", which are basically games that covertly teach some soccer skills. I had planned to do 3 different drills for about 5 minutes each.

If only I'd remembered that the attention span of the average 3 or 4 year-old is about 0.02 seconds.

So we've finished the drills, and I'm 14.94 minutes ahead of schedule. (Okay, not really.)

Everyone's favorite drill was "road trip." The idea is we go jog to one corner of the field, pretending that we're going on a vacation, and the kids are supposed to dribble their ball with them to our destination. The team did a good job of carrying their soccer balls with them. One boy just kept going, and didn't want to return when it was time to "come back home." Fortunately, we didn't have to call for search-and -rescue, but instead just used a lasso.

The drills are livened up by at least 1 child at a time (they took turns) crying about not wanting to participate, unable to tell anyone what they were upset about.

After the drills, we attempt to scrimmage. The team's first game is in 10 days, and so I'm trying to give them an idea of how a game might go (or not go, whichever the case may be).

We pick teams. Our league is 3 on 3 (no goalies), so we divide our 6 players evenly. The highlight is the boy who I will forever call in my mind "The Ladies' Man", who picks the 2 girls as his teammates without blinking. Even the parents laugh.

The scrimmage pretty much consists of Big Brother's team running off the field to get their soccer balls, and the other team standing around not knowing what to do, and then following Big Brother's lead. (It became readily apparent that each child must have their own ball at all times, or practice will consist of everyone crying).

Can we play a game with six soccer balls on the field simultaneously?

Did I mention that through most of practice I ended up carrying Little Brother, who was screaming his head off, inconsolably, because he hasn't seen Dad-E all day (who drove straight from work to practice)? Poor Busy-Mom-E.

It's okay, though. You use your feet, not your hands, when playing soccer.

Anyway, we get to try it again at our next practice on Thursday.

If my life were a reality tv show right now, I imagine it'd look a lot like the the Little League scenes from the movie "Parenthood".

See you on Friday,


  1. LOL! Well best of luck coach; you are off to a great start. Rosi

  2. @Rosi. Thanks, Rosi. I appreciate the vote of confidence. Please feel free to subscribe as a follower of the blog for a chance at fabulous prizes. :)

  3. I have tears in my eyes from laughing. Oh my gosh. I feel for you Dad-E! Can't wait to see this all come together :)

  4. @Gramm-E. Thanks for the support. Ready to do battle again tomorrow. Have revamped my game plan, and as long as the port-o-potty is up and running, we'll be raring to go.

  5. It sounds like you need another parent to "volunteer" to take care of the Potty situation. As the coach of the team, you have the power to assign jobs to parents just sitting around. :)

  6. @Super Mega Dad. I think the potty issue falls on the soccer program director, who was there at the practice, but isn't the most proactive guy. As far as the other parents go, they were actually pretty active during practice--encouraging their child to participate and pointing them in the right direction.

  7. That was great! I could picture the entire scene and it was hysterical, mostly because it was happening to someone else.

  8. I was looking forward to coaching my son's sports teams when he's old enough. Now I'm not so sure! ;-)

  9. @WeaselMomma. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I decided several years ago that I could choose between just laughing about the insanity that comes with fatherhood, or beat my head against the wall. Since I can't afford to lose any more neurons, I opted for the former.

  10. @Daddy Files. Don't despair and abandon hopes of coaching. Whether it's an illness or soccer practice, young children can look like death made over one moment, and absolutely fine the next. Between my own silly antics and more frequent "games" to address short attention spans (and nobody soiling themselves), we had a much better practice on Thursday. The girls picked flowers for me (during practice, of course), and one of the boys gave me a hug, and my heart just melted. I'll take all of the chaos that comes with this fun--the kids are having a ball

  11. I don't know what's worse; that whole ordeal or the game of soccer itself.

    I mean, let's be honest, it's like hockey only without the awesome fights. Any game where you can tie at the end is un-American!

  12. I coach 5-year olds in basketball and football. It's hilarious - the kids and their parents.

  13. This was so funny!! I was also a soccer player 20+ years ago and just started coaching this past fall with my 9 year old daughter's team. She has been asking me to coach since she was five and after reading your post I am so glad I waited until now! The 9 and 10 year olds on my winter league team are actually starting to understand the game of soccer and it has been a blast!

  14. The thought of you making a first impression with mismatched shoes is still making me laugh.

    I have always been amazed at how my Dad showed patience while coaching us a little league. You sound like a guy with the right patience for the job too.

  15. Dude, great post. Now as a warning, I checked off assistant coach last year for my daughters basketball team and now I am on the board and a two year veteran of being a head coach in basketball.

    I am also a soccer coach, and I can tell you without any question--soccer experience is not needed at that age. I coach my 6 year olds indoor team now and it is more or less just me managing the substitutions. This was a great post...careful with your shoes.

  16. happy fatherhood friday. Great post, i couldnt stop laughing. the visuals were something else.

  17. LOL. Awesome post. Like john said, the visuals were hysterical.

    Thank you for the late night laugh (kids make 9pm seem like 3am, don't they?).

  18. good luck w the coaching! oldest daughter tried soccer once, she didn't like it enough to keep doing it. i helped coach her baseball team last yr w my husband, and youngest daughter's softball team cpl yrs back. worst parents ever. lazy parents too. here's hoping you have helpful happy parents :)

  19. @ New-Dad-Blog: Soccer isn't my favorite game, either, but if the kids are having fun, playing outside, and getting some exercise then it's a good thing.

    @ Mocha Dad: I agree about the hilarity of sports at this age. I can't wait until somebody scores an own-goal, or somebody sits down to pick flowers, or the entire team runs off of the field during a game. Those moments are priceless. I'm just glad that at least so far, none of the parents are overbearing.

    @ John Wildermuth: I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Despite my sarcasm, I really enjoy the coaching. We need good dads to serve as coaches and role modles for our kids, and my "hats off" to those who do just that.

    @ Otter: Please to make you laugh at my expense. I wanted to crawl into a hole when I saw my shoes. Yes, it's given me new appreciation of what my dad did for me coaching-wise growing up. I completely agree that patience is key.

    @ Joeprah: Thanks for the comments. I agree that much of coaching at this age is about "deception." Our practices consist of games that covertly teach soccer skills. The kids love to all be on the field, so I may need to invest in some restraints when the games start and only 3 can play at a time.

    @ john: Happy FF to you, too! I'm glad you had a good laugh. Long ago I decided that the craziness of fatherhood could be dealt with through laughter or beating my head against the wall. Since I can't afford to lose more brain cells, I opted for the former.

    @ Isabella: I'm glad you had a late-night laugh. Some nights at our house, it's 7pm that feels like 3am. Mom-E and I are both guilty of dozing off while reading bedtime stories.

    @ ciara: Thanks for the well-wishes, and that past experiences with parents don't deter you from continuing to help coach.

  20. Little Cousin and I are very amused (or he might be just amused by the green light coming from the seems to really be appealing to him!)! This is one of my favorite stories that you've posted...although most of them make me laugh. Aunt-E