I was 14 years old, I remember the nerves. I walked out to the field with my dad. “Ok guys here is the lineup for today” At this point I have 15 or so 8 and 9 year old boys looking up to me, taking in my every word. Wanting to know if they were starting, what I had to say. I was a HIGH SCHOOL kid, helping my dad coach them! Ill never forget my dad letting me do this every game, he was grooming me to coach. I remember the earthquake that shattered our lives in the bay area that same year. I remember every time I stepped on to the field to coach trying to think, “ok so if an earthquake hits right now, what do we do?” I remember so much of being 14 years old and learning how to coach, but to be fair, nothing I ever saw when I was 14 could prepare me for the world I am learning to coach in now. Most of you read Erin’s blog, and you read a story he told about a game a few weeks ago. I’ll be honest, I wish that was one of the worst things I have heard on a soccer field. I have learned over my past 13 years with the current club I coach for to never assume I have seen it all, or heard it all. Every morning before I go out I pray to God to keep these girls safe from injury, to strengthen them, and to guide them. I love my girls, there is no doubt. I try and love them as God loves them, and as Jesus would love them. I try and be that role model that I know not all of them have. I try and shine God’s light in my actions and behavior. I fail plenty, as we all do, I always fall short from who I truly want to be for them. In this post though, I am not talking about what happens on the field, I am gonna talk about how can we maneuver these girls on this journey dealing with what happens OFF the field.
I hear the screams around the world right now, regardless of what side one is on(are you Republican, or Democrat?) everything said from President Trump, to ISIS, to the flags we wave around. There are people being mowed down in the streets, just because of a view they have. People are throwing soda cans filled with cement at people, and knocking over monuments that have stood for over 100 years. I see people who say they are “against hate” filled with hate towards anyone who disagrees with them. On the TV people are saying you have to be on one side or the other, there is no in between.
Every day, after work, I go out to a grass field. I have 41 little souls who I am responsible for 3 times a week during practices and once a week for games. I think of all these things we hear ever day on the news or on TV, I look into these precious faces, and I can’t help but wonder, “Who will you be?” Will she be a Republican, a Democrat? Will she be someone who I agree with, or disagree with? Will she make good choices or ones she will regret? As I think about it later, the answer is YES, to all of them. With the amount of girls I have coached, there is no doubt they will fall along all those lines at some point. So then I think, what is MY role in all of this. With a world that has seemingly gone mad, how can I possibly make a difference?
Now many of you might have noticed I haven’t really talked about God, or Jesus much at all yet. We are in a society that makes it hard to talk about this right? How can we talk about GOD? I have always said how my girls have taught me more over my years coaching then I ever will them, and now is where I am going to bring this epiphany to you all.
So last season I had an issue with one of my girls on my teams saying things that were “inappropriate” in nature. Now most male coaches don’t like to approach things with female teams. It is hard to do and guys are always worried about crossing the dreaded line. I am not one of those people. I decided to sit down with my team and have a heart to heart about what is appropriate conversation with teammates. Now I don’t usually bring Jesus or god into many of these conversations. However I decided to let the girls in on a little bit about me, I said “Look girls, many of you may not know, but I have a strong faith, and I do not believe that this are conversations one should have with anyone other then a parent, especially when it is making people you care about uncomfortable.” That was all I said about my faith, among other things that had nothing to do with faith. After this conversation I had numerous girls come to me, and talked about THEIR faith and how they were so happy I said this, as they were feeling uncomfortable. One of the girls decided to take it a step further, and say, “Coach, can we pray before games?” I was stunned that these 12 year old girls had the courage to ask about that. Of course I made note to the whole team that they did not have to join in prayer, but we started praying as a team. I let the girls lead most of the time, and not once have I heard them pray for a win, but for strength, for guidance, and for them to play hard.
Now you may be asking what does this have to do with coaching in a crazy world right? Well, I have found that so many things are out of my control. I can not possibly expect to completely keep these girls from harm, from the evils that are out there, but I have found as well that by being the shining light God desires, it allows these girls to let their light shine. For those who have faith, it allows that light to be shining even more then before. Maybe for those who do not have faith it shows them what faith can do, or more importantly, what LOVE can do. My design is not to convert, but to show what God wants of us, and for me, I believe that is to Love one another. I truly think the best way to maneuver through the ugly, crazy times we are in is to love, to always hold God up, and to make sure its ok to let others see this. See, I am not a Republican, or a Democrat, I am one of God’s people. Lets shine the LOVE!
Thanks for reading!
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.”
It is true! If we step out in faith and love the way Jesus has called us to love, others will be encouraged to do the same. I am grateful that you have the courage to do that in front of the girls on your team. Thank you for offering a glimpse of what goes on in a coach’s heart as you lead, and thank you for that poem. Ever since you shared it with me, I have continued to go back to it. There is so much truth in what Williamson wrote.