I coached a U10 girls soccer team this fall. We lost every single game of the season. Our last tournament was this past weekend. Coaching this team has been quite an adjustment from coaching my U16 team. It was a great experience and I loved all the girls...but it wasn't easy.
In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul writes, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity."
This verse has been on my mind since becoming the coach of this U10 team for one reason- the parents. Most of the parents were awesome and very supportive, but there were one or two that were very resistant and made me feel very discouraged. These few thought that I didn't know what I was doing and that they could walk all over me, just because I am a new, young coach. Most of the time, I had to ignore the things they were saying and I had to be more mature.
It's hard to get people, especially parents, to understand my coaching philosophy, even after explaining it. I feel like it goes against the way that many coaches choose to coach. I don't believe in screaming at my players and making them play out of fear of failure; or getting angry about mistakes; or becoming overly-obsessed with winning. I believe in peace instead of anger; gentleness instead of yelling; unity instead of selfishness; encouragement instead of pressure; hard work instead of individual glory; self-control instead of recklessness; learning instead of 'getting by'; patience instead of frustration.
Often times, my patience and encouragement and teaching was not accepted, probably mostly due to the fact that we weren't winning. And, that's the most important thing, right? Nope. But we are all seeing the world through different eyes so it's hard to relate sometimes. One parent decided to take things into his own hands and I had to kick him out of a practice. Yes, you read that correctly. I couldn't believe it either. Absolutely ridiculous.
Going back to what Paul said; I am young so it's hard to be the leader and enforce things, as a coach, while trying to still have respect for those older than me. I found MYSELF having to set the example. This is cheesy but, I am trying to see the world as God does. That's what we are called to do. I need to continually remind myself that most people are not trying to do this and that they do not understand why I am trying to do it. It's hard to tell parents, "well, I'm just going to try and coach the way I think Jesus would." Yeah, right. But I'm trying to be patient and, despite the discouragement, continue to coach with the vision that I have. Building players up, teaching them, and setting an example so that they are learning more than just how to be better soccer players.
I'm not trying to win the freaking World Cup. I'm trying to teach them to have an eternal perspective and teach them things that will help them to become better people: honesty, trust, unity, tenacity, determination, perseverance, leadership, discipline, competitiveness, passion. These things will then all be reflected in the way they play soccer.
So....how do I explain this to people?
The truth is, I can't. It might not be successful through the world's eyes...but I don't want the eyes of all the people just living life; I want the eyes of the One that gives life. I can only continue to 'live it' and 'coach it,' and, as Paul goes on to say, "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Timothy 4:16).
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