Well, this looks... interesting, I thought to myself as I surveyed the turf. Boys, all around the same age as me, were scattered around the field, like toys in a toddler's messy room. It was my first practice as a select soccer player. I had played soccer for a while before then but had played at the rec level before deciding to take the step up into select soccer that year. As I finished tying up my shoes and warming up, a man emerged from the training rooms.
He stomped up the hill and announced in a deep, thick African accent, "Ok everyone, line up! 10 laps around the field, let's go! Do it quickly!" Little did I know that I would spend the next two years hating that man, who I would call my coach for my next four seasons. Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I would wake up and immediately feel anxious about the upcoming practice or game. However, my coach taught me many valuable life lessons that have helped me mature and become the person and player I am today.
My coach taught me to persevere through the tough times.
And trust me, there were a lot of those during my time with him. There were days when I would go there, and it would just be one strenuous drill after another, with him yelling at us the entire time. Those days had an immense physical toll on me, too. I would come home without a single iota of energy left in me. All I wanted to do is collapse on my bed and lay there for hours. But I had to get up, push through the pain and continue to work. I learned that to see results, you must fight through the lowest of the lows. Time and time again, I had to persevere, push away thoughts of quitting and keep working to get better. Now, I have gained that mentality of never giving up and fighting until the end, and I can thank my coach for that.
My coach taught me is leadership.
I learned very quickly that being the quiet, calm kid will get me nowhere. Instead, I had to step up and learn how to lead. And trust me, with a group of rowdy soccer players my age, learning was not easy at all. But over time, with the (harsh) guidance of my coach, I learned proper leadership skills and methods that I use almost every day now. I may have complained endlessly about his yelling and strictness, but my first coach gave me one of my most valuable skills, and I am grateful to him for that.
My first soccer coach also taught something else important, but this one is unlike the other two. During practice, he would always be criticizing, yelling and glaring at one player or another. That set all the players on edge. As a result, there were many disagreements and sometimes even fights among players.Through the disagreements, I learned to find the positives in everyone and that I should always stay optimistic. Over the seasons, I used those two skills to get on the good side of all of my teammates and soon, I was on good terms with almost all of the team. I implemented those two skills into my daily life, and the results have been phenomenal.
Four seasons of Coach S. led to lots of frustration, anger and pain in the beginning. It was really hard to endure the mental and physical toll of his intense practices, training and games. However, I learned many life lessons from my time with him that I can use both in my future soccer career and my personal life. So, I guess he was a good coach after all.
Thank you, Coach S.