Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Coachin', season 2

It's soccer time again, however it isn't soccer weather yet.  Hopefully next week will give us warmer weather, as I start running a gaggle of 12 year olds through some soccer training.  After talking it over with Stacey, I signed up to coach her team again.

I'm pumped about having a go at coaching again.  Last season we were 5-3-2, acceptable, but a let down considering we started out 4-0-2 and hit the top of the standings for our division.  I enjoyed being around the kids, all full of energy, spirited, and impossible to control.  I thought my attempts to remain positive and supportive through the season were going to become a Herculean effort, but I enjoyed being where I was so much that staying upbeat was natural.  I'm hoping for the same experience this season, too.

We have 8 of the 11 girls from last season, losing Anna, Milly, and Taiylor, and I'll miss all three of them.  Without going into detail about other people's kids, Anna brought speed and a permanent smile to the team, Milly wild ferocity and confidence, and Taiylor instinct and wit.  What a great combination the three of them were.  So to replace them we have three new girls, and from what I can tell at least two of them are new to the area and just getting back into soccer.  This means practices will be a skills refresher course, which will be good for everyone.  The basics never change, and keeping them in your thoughts always improves your play.  Move the ball upfield, pass to the open player, etc.  It's always good for your game.

I'm going to schedule some practices for next week, and maybe a get-together of some sort... ice cream, laser tag at Magic Mountain, something cool.  Lots of plusses to look forward to.  A big minus, on the other hand, is my recent bought with back pain.  I stopped exercising as consistently as I had over the prior couple of years, and I softened up a little.  My back was the first thing to weaken, and I pulled it about a month ago carrying Scout to bed.  After giving it a few days to heal up, I began a new regimen of stretching and core exercises, but it hasn't been the same.

My back pain stems originally from an old injury that crops up every once in a while.  Ironically, the injury came from playing soccer back in the 1980s, when I was young, in perfect health, and at the top of my game mentally and physically.  I was The Stork, the defender no one could get around 1 on 1 (except that Brazilian exchange student... thorn in my side).  In one game a forward led the ball slightly too far, and I pounced on it, unable to resist what I later saw as obvious bait.  As I focused on the ball, he tucked his head down and charged at me, and scooped me out of the way with a basic football tackle.  I flipped forward in the air, and landed flat on my back, and had to come out of the game.  I never saw the move as a personal assault, just some dirty play which you have to watch out for in pick-up games with high-schoolers.

I ended up working with a physical therapist after I kept re-aggravating the injury, and eventually strengthened the affected area, and settled the nerve down that kept getting rubbed.  Still, once in a blue moon I'll feel it again, a subtle reminder that I'm not impervious to all harm, despite being able to take a hit or two during soccer games with the crazy over-30 crowd I play with now.  Half of those guys are totally far gone crazy, struggling to retain some manhood after not becoming the professional athlete they wanted to be.  Some of the women are like that, too; don't turn your back on 'em, 'cause they'll cut ya'.

Anyway, so I'm hoping for a speedy recovery so I can participate in some drills with my girls, but if not I'll direct from the sidelines, and leave the muscle work to Jim, the assistant coach.  He's also the captain of the over-30 team I play on... or played on, depending on how I feel in a few weeks when our season starts.

Life is good all around.  I hooked up recently with my buddy who adopted a couple girls from China, both of whom enjoyed Stacey's attempt to entertain them.  I'm actually getting a bonus this year, despite fears to the contrary.  AEP has been tightening its belt with the global financial meltdown of last year, and we thought our bonuses were at risk.  As it turns out, I'll be getting enough to take the wife on a nice anniversary trip, and will be able to come back with the new bed she wanted (which will be better for both our backs).

Lastly, the book fair is this week, and I'm taking the day off on Friday to go volunteer.  I don't get over to Stacey's school much, and I like to take advantage of chances to be there so the staff gets familiar with me, which has a nice trickle-down effect on Stacey's life at school.  Plus I get to scare off kids who try to steal books.

Being a former master shoplifter, I know how to spot a kid who's thinking about stealing something.  Last book fair it was all a game of subtleties; I just tracked a couple kids with my eyes until they backed down, and stood up and meandered toward the stacks for a few who were more persistent.  I never had to embarrass anyone, never escalated anyone's mischievous thoughts into being nabbed for stealing.  It's best to avoid that and let the kid come to terms with those instincts on his own, rather than be punished and labeled, which always makes the kid worse off.  Sow your oats, get it out of your system.  That's why the Amish have Rumspringa.

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