In search of… Coach Mom

A few weekends ago, my twins kicked off their second season of soccer. It’s been a year since they last played, so I was really looking forward to their first game – and praying that I wouldn’t have to chase my daughter off the playground to get back in the game. Let’s just say that 3 is a little young to start team sports in my humble opinion. Unless you love throwing perfectly good money away on soccer cleats and shin guards that only last a season. And basically, I paid the organization for my kids to whine through most of the games, pick dandelions while “playing,” and endure tantrums and screams that they were “sooooo itchy and hot.”

Yet there was that one freak incident where my son somehow got the ball in front of the goal and scored inadvertently. And this momma’s heart swelled like a balloon. I may have jumped up and down a little obnoxiously. That pretty much made it all worth it.

However, I digress as usual.

Last year my husband coached the team and did a stellar job. He’s a perfect coach – enthusiastic, great with the kids, and has the patience of a saint. But while I was sitting on the sidelines cheering my kids on,  the ole soccer girl in me was dying to be out there coaching them along. And really “coaching” is a loose term at this age – it’s more like herding stray cats and encouraging little Johnny to kick the ball in the correct goal. Or really to just kick the ball at all.

So this time around, I decided I would coach and let Matt assist me. How nice, right?

In search of Coach MomHaving grown up playing soccer from age 4 on AND having my mom as a coach for the formative years up until competitive ball, I couldn’t wait to have the same experience with my kids. I may not have let her know back then, but I always thought it was so cool that my mom was involved and wanted to be out there on the fields with us. I distinctly remember her multitude of “soccer coaching” books, with pages turned down marking the plays she wanted us to learn. A couple of times a week and every Saturday, she would be out there in some sweet nylon windsuits, big 80’s sunglasses/goggles, and her Rainbows shirt on full display.

I just didn’t know what a trailblazer she was.

When I showed up on Saturday to pick up our coach’s shirt and meet our team, I looked around a little bit stunned.

I didn’t see one female coach.

When they lined up my division to introduce the coaches, here I was standing with 14 big men and me swimming in my huge red t-shirt with COACH emblazoned on it. Because they don’t make small sizes for us.

All at once, I was proud to be the one lone woman standing in this line of dudes, but for some reason, I also felt really insecure and uncomfortable. Like I wondered if the parents of my kiddos I was about to meet were crossing their fingers that they didn’t get the “girl coach.” Did they care? I wasn’t sure. I swallowed my self-doubt and coached {errr… herded} my heart out to a dismal 8-1 defeat. But honestly, I wasn’t worried about the score – I just wanted to make sure the kids had fun.

Driving home, I just started thinking…out of all the coaches out there {it’s a huge league}, why are females such the minority? I’m not a huge feminist, but it was a little discouraging. Our teams are 50/50 coed, so I feel passionately that the little girls need to see women involved in the game and not necessarily just on the sidelines. {And please don’t misunderstand me – there is NOTHING wrong with being a supportive mom on the sidelines. Unless you are blatantly obnoxious. That’s a different story.}

Talking about it with my husband, I came to a few conclusions ::

First, it’s AWESOME that so many dads want to be involved and coach their kids through the mugginess, rain, and freezing cold. They could be out on the links drinking beer, sleeping in, or watching football. So bravo, Dads.

Second, I think more dads coach because it’s their way to bond with the kids. The vast majority don’t get to spend as much “quality time” during the work week as the moms do, so it’s a great family activity. And I totally support that.

Third, by gameday Saturdays, moms are just plain tired! Sometimes we want to just relax, enjoy our kids playing, and not wear one more hat. And I get that. I really do.

However, our kids {boys and girls} need to see more women stepping up to the plate, both literally and figuratively, as a head coach. I was one of the fortunate girls to benefit from Title IX, and now millions of little girls now have the opportunity to participate in high school and college athletics. Our children need to see us as more than just the household chef, family driver, and head cheerleader {although all noble and vital roles}. They need to know that yes, Mommy does know a few things about sports. Yes, Mommy used to play tons of sports before becoming “mom.” Yes, son, even football {thanks LSU intramurals}. Mommy can lead a team. Mommy wants the opportunity to run side by side with you as you score your first goal. And yes, Mommy even wants to be called “Coach.”

What do y’all think? Are you a Mom Coach? Do you prefer when coaching is left to the Dads?

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