What a Difference a Year Makes
I have been helping out with the local high school soccer team for just over two years now. Two years ago, when I first came, I volunteered along with a friend, mostly being frustrated in the lack of discipline on the team. Then when it came time to play games, I generally didn't want to be there. The team looked so bad that I was frankly embarrassed to be on the sidelines.
After that season, I had several parents ask me if I might be interested in coaching. It reminded me of after my first year as assistant coach at LCA - I would have been interested if a couple of things were different. Then, being in seminary, I didn't know where I'd be after four years, and I would rather have the team coached by someone who could build a program. While that was the big reason for me to not coach at LCA, the big reason here was this: I just don't have the time. Being a full-time pastor, husband, the father of (then one, now two) little boys, I had to decline.
So they hired Gregg Luthman... I'd heard all sorts of negative rumors and gossip about him (mostly, it seems, from someone else who applied but did not get hired), but he has debunked every rumor by being a consistently good coach. Last year I helped out as a volunteer when I could (though we had a newborn, which made things tough). It was a pretty tough season as the kids began to learn a system of play...
Sometime before this season, Gregg asked me if I would consider being his assistant coach. I still didn't really have the time to do so, so he asked if I knew anyone who might be able to do so. He was looking for someone who knows the game and hopefully would also be young enough to keep up with the kids and to be someone they would look up to (he and I are, after all, ancient, when it comes to teenagers).
I almost immediately thought of Trent, the youth pastor at the UCC here in town. He just graduated from college and has starting full-time at the UCC, and he played soccer here (and is still in good shape). What youth pastor wouldn't want a chance to interact with a group of kids like this on a daily basis (and earn a little extra money to boot)? As I had guessed, Trent jumped at the chance.
Then Gregg asked me if I might consider becoming the Varsity Assistant coach. It is a new position he was trying to get accepted, and I could work around my schedule. Tara and I worked that out and decided that I will go to practice 2-3 times per week and home games (no away trips). That worked with them, so I am the Varsity Assistant soccer coach. I even got a really sharp coach shirt to wear on the sidelines.
Today was our first game. Last year we won this game 2-0. Today we were up 2-0 within the first 7 minutes. We scored the first goal in the first minute, and were up 6-0 at half. What a difference a year makes! The team looked good. They looked like a team. They passed well. They supported well. They trusted one another. They made interesting passes. They made the game look good. And this in driving rain on a soaked field.
I had to leave after half-time (because the game had been pushed back 1/2 hour because of lightning before the game), but when the second half started, the Rangers were playing a "different" game - instead of scoring on net, they were tabulating their own "scores"... by carrying the ball into the 6 yard box. They weren't allowed to shoot on goal except on a free kick or corner kick.
It was great seeing the Rangers play good soccer!