Hillary Clinton famously quoted an African proverb when she said, “it takes a village to raise a child.” With that in mind, I spent my weekend out at Soccer First in Dublin with what seemed like everyone else in all of Central Ohio, as two of my daughters played in soccer tournaments. We survived Saturday’s 46 degrees and hard rain, and we enjoyed a beautiful fall day (although it’s always 15 degrees colder on the soccer field) on Sunday. This tournament ends the fall season for most teams, although soccer never really ends, they just take breaks before indoor season and then the spring season.
My family has been incredibly blessed by two great coaches. For several years Jeff Sever and John Woods have coached my daughters. They have given an amazing amount of time in order to help the girls enjoy the game and learn the lessons that team sports can help teach. Between practices and games I count 50 events between August and now for each team. That doesn’t include scheduling of games, practices, sending emails to families, and coordinating pizza parties. Easily they have each invested close to 250 hours in just this fall season.
I enjoy sports. But, I don’t have 250 hours I am willing to donate right now to coach my girls. The amazing thing is that these guys don’t either. But they choose to do it anyway! John Woods lives in Worthington but works each week, at least part of the week, in Chicago. He coordinates practices and games with his travel schedule. Jeff Sever coaches my daughter’s team, another Worthington team, and makes certain to attend every one of his older daughter’s games, while somehow staying employed and married.
Now, let’s be honest. I don’t agree with every coaching decision these guys make. I don’t always think their substitution patterns make sense, and I don’t always agree with their strategy. But, really those are my issues. What I appreciate about both of them is that they really, really care. They are working to develop our girls into athletic young ladies. They are teaching the girls to work hard, to believe in themselves, to compete aggressively, and sometimes, to lose with grace. Mostly I appreciate that as volunteers they are choosing to give of themselves and take time away from their own family to volunteer and coach.
I read plenty of examples of youth sports gone bad. Sometimes my own competitive nature on a sideline gets the best of me and I may even be an example of youth sports gone bad. But, one of the great things about youth sports are the people who volunteer their time to help the rest of us raise our children. There were at least a hundred of these volunteers at the soccer tournament I was at last weekend.
I’m thankful for Jeff Sever and John Woods and their work with my kids. My kids are better off with their influence in their lives and our community is better off because of their efforts.
Now, about that practice time…..