Saturday, September 27, 2014

Yellow Cards Fly

This week we faced off against the Hurricanes, yet another undefeated team.
*********Spoiler Alert: They're still undefeated.  *********

A few notable moments.

To appreciate the first, I have to tell you a little bit about the game.  The first two quarters were relatively uneventful.  They scored two goals.  Now, during the 3rd quarter, they picked things up a bit and scored three more.  That's 5-0 in case you're counting.

So imagine my surprise when in the fourth quarter, our little band of Blue Hawks rose to the occasion and scored a goal and shut out their offense.  I was so proud to see these little guys attacking the ball like the hadn't all season.  After the game, I praised the boys for their grit, their 4th quarter spunk.  We did the 2-4-6-8 cheer with pleasure, and then we did the gladhand line-em-up, good-game slaps with our heads held high.

The coach stopped to comment on a few of my players.  I told my son he should take it well since this guy had played in college.  (I hesitated a bit because I was going to say he was a pro, but that, of course, was not the case -- not sure if this rubbed him the wrong way...but...). He then proceeded to say: Yeah, see we decided to go with our B lineups in the last quarter, so we wouldn't run up the score too high. No reason to make your players feel lousy.

Yes, he actually said this aloud, and showed me his lineups just to underscore the point.

You might call that Yellow Card #1

The 2nd incident involved our own team.  Yes, our own team. I haven't told you so much about MegaDad, but suffice it to say I've got a dad who thinks HE should be coaching the team. Unfortunately, for him he's not, and even more unfortunately, his son is clearly the worse off for all the coaching he gets from this very aggressive dad.  He subscribes to the hollering, demean style of parent-coaching -- which, sadly, any of us can fall prey, too.

So at the start of the game, he was coaching his son -- not encouraging, but coaching -- telling him where to go, who to cover, what to do.   So, I call over to the sidelines to my right and say, "Hawk parents, please don't coach your kids."  Megadad turns smuggly to the other parents and says, "Well, someone has to."

Now, in my everyday life, as many of you know, I'm a fairly easy going person, tolerant, passive aggressive at most.  Never aggressive aggressive.  So when this happens, I decide I've had enough.  I'd talked to this Dad at the beginning of the year after he tried to take over a practice.

"What's going on?" I say, arms out wide.  "What are you doing?  You're challenging me on the sidelines?  What's the problem?"

"Hey, I'm not doing anything wrong.  You are not getting up in my face," he replies.

"Yes, I am, and if you keep this up, I'm going to ask the refs to eject you from the game."

"You do what you gotta do," he replies.

Of course, I have no idea if U10 AYSO refs can even do such a thing.  But I'm not backing off.

The trouble is I know I shouldn't care, and I know I shouldn't be getting in people's faces.  But I also know that I've experienced bullies before.  It's been a while since I encountered one this directly, but I remember what it's like, and for that reason, I'm not going to tolerate a parent who's basically acting like a bully to me and to my players, including his son.

Granted I'm not Mr. Perfect.  We did lose the game. We elicited the Hurricane's B team.  And I do also, from time to time, yell for my son to do things in a way I never would the other players.

But in as much as this coaching is a return to issues I thought I left behind when I stopped playing team sports, I also feel a need to make different choices than I used to make.  Not to roll over when someone kicks at me.  Not to back down.

Am I proud of what I did? No.  But did I do what I had to do in that moment.  Yes.  And I'm going to respond with the same chutzpah I ask of the players. 

I guess, I'm trying to answer the call: Coach, Rise!

(BTW, following the kids' model I think I'd have to say "Coach! Coach!" in response".)

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