The game suddenly takes a turn as every single contact becomes a major foul. You start to wonder if the officials have a kid on the other team. Your team is making mental errors, over and over and you can’t shake them out of it. Its pouring rain and 35 degrees and your hands are way past numb, your toes feel like blocks of wood and the game is full of whistles stopping the clock and prolonging the misery. They aren’t listening, you can’t get through, you beat this team before but now it’s falling apart. A parent phone call before the game is all about chewing you out, clearly you have no idea what you’re doing. You’re in overtime, sudden victory or sudden defeat is only moments away. Your best player forgot their uniform, overslept, got caught partying….
Can you feel your blood pressure rising? Ever wanted to chuck the white board, your hat, or step out onto the field and let the official, opposing coach, or your player get a little taste of the boiling frustration that’s rising inside you?
We have the best job. It comes with those moments, it comes with those emotions. But our role must be driven by our chosen focus. A while back, I chose love, and no matter the situation, it overrides everything else.
Even when things are crazy, I remember exactly why I have the best job. The smell of the turf when it’s been baking in the sun all day. The little rubber pellets sprinkling my front hallway from taking off my shoes each night. The crisp evening air, the sound of whistles. Laughter, so much laughter, and then focus, breathing hard, hands smacking in a high five after a great play and cheers erupting from fellow teammates to each other. Sitting in a group as the sun goes down talking about the plans and milestones we hope to reach. Inside jokes, outside jokes, and my favorite, dad jokes. The pregame music blasting and the adrenaline pumping. The national anthem as everyone is still before the storm. Calling out that last minute adjustment that ends in a goal. The look on the athletes’ faces when they triumph, the look when they feel loved, the look when they overcome a fear or master something new, the look when their confidence soars.
I love notebooks filled with drawings, drills and games. My ragged calander, filled out to the max, crossed out, circled, and X’d days as we move through the season. Team dinners, team trips, bus rides, plane rides, late night trip conversations that show you the amazing insights into your players you would have never learned on the field.
The day they move on, the day you have your last game with some of your players each season, the first day when you meet the new ones and immediately have nicknames to remember who they are. The tears that you can’t help fighting when you realize all those times they really were listening, it really did make a difference.
There’s no game moment stressful enough to overpower your love of coaching the game. There’s no stress that will come your way that will last, the way your love of coaching will last. Let go and next time you feel your temperature rise, step back and tell yourself –
I HAVE THE GREATEST JOB.