Since having my daughter in August 2012 I constantly ask myself, "what type of parent do I want to be?". The answer always remains the same, "the kind I could look up to".
Everyone would constantly tell my husband and I how as soon as you have a child, things change. I can remember thinking, "ya, ya". But now I completely understand. I know that my parenting journey has just begun, but becoming a parent has already changed me in so many wonderful ways.
My husband has asked me numerous times if I will coach our daughter when she gets old enough, but at this point I am undecided. I didn't start playing "organized" soccer until I was in high school and shortly after completing high school I started to obtain my coaching licenses up through my National D in 2004 at University of the Pacific in Stockton. I also played junior college ball in 2009 (and was coined as "grandma" for being nearly 10 years older then the oldest member of the team).
However, I digress back to my original question, "what type of parent do I want to be?". I want to be the one who cheers for her daughter, who totes her to practice, cuts orange slices, does the post-game celebratory tunnel, and mends to her boo-boos. However, my competitive side is the complete opposite. I want her to LEARN all she can, I want her to have so much FUN that at the end of practice she cries because she doesn't want to go home, I want her to take a soccer ball EVERYWHERE with her, I want her to be ATHLETIC and most importantly, I want her to LOVE herself and her abilities.
Here comes the but...but soccer has changed, money is now the driving force. I know this personally, as I used to run soccer camps, and provide training to soccer clubs and conduct private training sessions. I always tried to keep things fun, but it always seemed taboo to "play" during sessions. But isn't soccer a game that is meant to be fun?
Too many kids are pushed and pulled in every which direction (school, coaches, parents, friends, etc.). It is so sad to see coaches conduct themselves as though they are coaching the World Cup and they forget that they need to nurture their players and encourage sportsmanship, not create the next Pele, Hamm, or Beckham. Children are such a blank slate, that anything we do influences their path.
I learned this by luckily having some wonderful coaches who to this day I am quite fond of in memory. In my younger years as a former coach myself, I am worried that I have not done the best that I could have. I yelled at my players during games, I yelled at my team during games, I yelled at refs during games, and I was over the top competitive.
Looking back, I know the kids I coached had fun, were praised, encouraged and were challenged, but I pray that my at times over-the-top competitiveness didn't cause any to reconsider playing soccer. At the time, I lacked maturity and compassion. If I could coach all over again, I would, but it would be much different. This time, I would ask myself, "what type of coach do I want to be?".
I want to be the coach who makes learning fun, who makes challenges attainable and fun, who makes the game memorable and fun.
I want to be the coach who inspires and creates lasting memories.
I have come to realize, that even though my little one is only six months old, parenting and coaching are not that far apart; it is up to you to decide which type of lasting impression you would like to make. I wish in my earlier years of coaching someone would have asked me what type of coach I wanted to be. I am sure I would have done things differently.