Sunday, April 14, 2013

Getting out on the Soccer Field

 I really love this!  My sweet neighbor Sy made me this bracelet in honor of Autism Awareness Month and included the most thoughtful note.  Every time I look at my wrist, I remember my friend's kind act and this special month.


The Icy Dragons (Collin's in the center) huddling up with coach Gwen.

I few weeks ago I shot off this text: "I'll do it."  As soon as my fingers brushed the "send" button, I had second thoughts.  With those few words, I committed to be the assistant coach of my four-year-old's soccer team.

Why I committed to co-coach a soccer team is puzzling.  After all, my knowledge of soccer comes from a single viewing of Bend it Like Beckham.  I know: 1) no hands, 2) kick towards a goal, and 3) pepper practice with snacks and water breaks or the pint-size athletes revolt.  But, foreign sounding terms like corner kicks and spot kicks shoot shivers down my spine.  

Gwen, the head coach, reassured me that my second-in-command position would require little.  I would be the mommy version of a water girl.  The one that would nurse boo-boos on the sidelines and distribute snacks at the end.  That I could do!

Today was game one.  Gwen immediately took her position on the field.  In her white coach's jersey and black athletic pants, she played the part of coach well.  She pulled out a tiny scrap of paper with her scribbled notes.  Reading off the sheet, she belted out the line-up.  Little boys rushed onto the field.

I secured my cushy seat on the sidelines and relaxed in my folding chair.  Two players, Collin being one of them, took the first sideline break and snagged adjacent seats next to the field.  I was beginning to relax.  Sitting field side was delightful!  I smiled as I basked in the sun.  Perhaps I could even get a tan, I mused.  

Quarter one ended quickly and Gwen called in new players.  Collin was to take the field.  Upon hearing his name, Collin...just sat.  It quickly became apparent that he was absolutely petrified about entering the game.  I coaxed him out.  He hardly budged.  I snagged his little hand and walked him towards the center of the field.  He buried his head in my pants.  

I bent over and whispered, "Collin, you can do this.  It's fun!"  He clutched my hand harder.

Gwen tossed out the idea that I coach this quarter to aid Collin's transition.  

Why not, I thought.

The next quarter, Collin and I looked a bit like partners in a sack race.  He gripped my hand and we ran around the field in tandem.  While I was reassuring my little side-kick, I was also encouraging his two other teammates and receiving quite a bit of hands-on education (with an audience no less) on the rules of soccer.  

And so it went every time Collin entered the field.  The two of us running hip to hip, hand to hand.  I wondered, "Is this the way Mia Hamm or David Beckham started their illustrious careers, racing around the field while clutching the hands of their mothers?"

After the game, the opposing coach offered me words of encouragement.  He said it took one of his children three games to muster up the courage to enter the soccer field.

I smiled.  Well, at least we're on the field...both of us.











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