I didn't always want to be there. There were times I faked my way through it, enthusiastically cheering on kids while they practiced dribbling the soccer ball or shooting it in the goal when all I really wanted was to be laying on couch watching a ball game and essentially being left alone.
Despite those days, which were few and far between, I absolutely loved the past few months coaching (well, co-coaching) my under-6 soccer team. Yes, it's essentially watching a herd of kids swarm around the ball and if it squirts out, the herd quickly scurries to it. But it's also seeing kids who don't care about the score and just want to run around and have fun.
It's a little girl who, when the season started was hesitant about even stepping on to the field who by the end did everything we asked her to do and did it with the biggest smile. The girl who has a smile that is infectious that people she doesn't know comment on it.
Or seeing my son, who last season's most memorable moment was when he decided he wanted to see if he could run faster than the flock of birds flying overhead, figure out the game and this capped off the year by scoring five goals in a single game and seeing his confidence increase throughout the season.
It's the start of practice where before we did anything with a soccer ball, we'd ask what their favorite color/ice cream flavor/movie was. And it's being out on some of the finest soccer facilities in the state underneath the warm sun on a spring evening and just laughing and playing. It's interrupting practice when we see an airplane fly overhead so we can all wave and say "hi airplane." It's ending every practice with a game of "get the ball from the coaches" and having them swarm around us as the other coach and I would use our (fading) soccer skills from high school to keep it from them as long as we can.
But ultimately it comes down to something we were told at our coaches meeting before the season. The Georgia Southern soccer coach told us for kids the ages we were coaching, there was really only one measure of success - did the kids have fun and as a corollary, do they want to keep playing soccer? While I don't know if they'll all play again, every player on our team said they had a great time playing.
And I appreciate the opportunity I was given to coach them.