Last night as I was walking past one of our local soccer fields it got me thinking about my recent years at the soccer club I spent a good 15 years at. Could my crossing paths with the current technical director of this club who literally destroyed my passion for youth soccer and coaching have been a blessing? In a crazy way I think it was. I mean at the time the shit went down obviously I didn’t see it that way but three years have passed and so in retrospect this revelation has actually come three years too late. You see, rather than just call it a day three years ago I actually returned and last year was on the coaching staff with the technical director himself. I mean think about this. Imagine getting fired from a paying job only to return to work for free for the person that FIRED YOU!! That has to be the dumbest thing anyone could ever do and yet I managed to do that. I even had someone tell me straight to my face ‘what are you thinking?’ ..I wish he had said it differently. Like ‘what is wronggggg with youuuu?’ a la Rajesh from big bang theory. Atleast I would have gotten a kick out of that.
Anyway, leaving this toxic environment has been the best thing to happen to me. I lead a stress free life. I mean let me rephrase that. I lead a stress free soccer life. Life outside of soccer still has its stresses. However I’ll take the life stresses over this toxic environment and all the shit it brings any day of the week. Now I simply live vicariously through my daughter. I go watch her play and stay away from everything that is toxic. Including some of the parents.
A few months back I wrote about retiring from youth soccer after many, many years. During the off season I was approached to return for the 2018 season. After talking to my family I decided to go for one more season. Both my wife and daughter wanted me to. I gotta tell you it was very surprising that my wife was my biggest cheerleader since she’s been wanting me to get out for many years now. Anyway last November during a coach’s symposium I had a conversation with a coach who I consider a friend. We talked about a few things including my returning and he told me that I should return if I still have the passion for it. Otherwise I should never do it for someone else. Pretty simple, right? That really got me thinking about my last three years since I coached the U13s. I realized he was right. I returned not for me but for someone else. The fact is that since 2015 things haven’t really gone the way I thought they would go. That 2015 season was an eye opener and in the end thanks to this conversation I realize that I don’t have it in me any longer. So this past week I had a conversation with the technical director and current coach of the seniors team I was to return to and advised him that I want to stay retired. The conversation went well and he understood. Honestly, I feel so much weight lifted off my shoulders. So it was close. That expression ‘I tried to get out but they keep pulling me back in’ no longer applies to me! Phew. 😀
So i googled to find out how long a New York minute lasts… well, ok… my unretirement lasted longer but it adds to my post title, no? 😋.
After 14 years I decided this season would be my last as a volunteer soccer coach. Fourteen years. That is a long time. I could make this post a very, very long one but I won’t. It will only be a long-ish one 😋. Although there were some bumps in the road, the 14 years for the most part were great years. I’d be lying if I wrote that I remember every single detail of these 14 years. I don’t.
When I set out on this adventure, it was innocent enough and really for my son. You want to do right by everyone but eventually you realize you cannot. It is impossible. I don’t have any regrets but certainly I wish I could have done some things differently. You want to be everyone’s friend but you cannot and will not. I definitely learned a lot over the years. From the great moments, to the good moments and also the not so good moments. I definitely made friends over the years but I also made a lot of what I will refer to as FBFFS … fake best friends forever. These are the folks that needed something from me and so either befriended me or family members for motives that were anything but sincere. There are a lot of bad people in this world.. But you know what? To each his own. I am far from perfect but I would rather be me then some of the folks I got to know over these years. From the down right evil, to insecure people who need to be the center of attention, to parents who think it’s ok to trash talk kids because as long as the kid doesn’t hear it, no harm no foul. To bullies and to those parents that supported this bullying. To parents who themselves bullied but poo poo’d when the tables were turned. My biggest disappointment came four years ago when a family we had such a fantastic friendship with over many many years turned out to be less than the people we thought they were. It truly shattered our family. I can go on and on but that would take away the good that came out of all these years as coach. For one, I continue to watch as these kids are growing up to be fine young adults. It’s amazing to see. Many I have known since they were 4-5 years old. As much as you want to be that coach that affected, in a good way, all the players that crossed your path, it doesn’t work out that way but I know that I did so with many. I have had the opportunity to reminisce in recent years with former players and it’s always a great feeling. Four years ago our family had the pleasure of hosting a 14 year old young man for three months during the summer. What a pleasure indeed. So disciplined. So caring. So focused. A truly genuine lad beyond his years who also showed true friendship to my son; unlike some others. We learned a lot from each other; our cultures. It’s something I will forever cherish and remember. I continue to follow his success in football (he’s gotten a scholarship in the US) and I expect to see him one day in the NFL quarterbacking a team all the way to the Super Bowl. No doubt in my mind 😀👍. It was his birthday over the weekend and I wished him well and he sent love our way. Very heartfelt. This is the kind of stuff you live for. The bad, you toss aside. As with anything, quality over quantity. There are alot more moments but if I don’t stop myself this will indeed become a very very long post!
I would be incredibly remiss if I didn’t write about what a great human being my son is. A fine young adult as well. He had to endure a lot over these years. An exceptional player at a very young age, he went through difficult times starting at age 13 when everyone around him was growing but he wasn’t. It became a struggle for him on the pitch and he suffered for it. Both on and off for several years. Many a time he had to endure being collateral damage on account of my being a coach. Very difficult for a kid to go through but he showed strength in overcoming this and we are proud of who he is becoming. In his first year at college last year he made the Dean’s list twice. That’s who he is. We know he will achieve greatness. That’s what matters. A few years ago an ‘adult’ went on this rant on Facebook about heroes and zeroes. He was trying to send a message. It was ridiculous especially coming from him and the hypocrite and bully he is. Well.. Let me tell you, I strive to be a hero to my kids. That’s all that is important to me but in the end for all he had to go through my son is my hero.
I stopped coaching my son three years ago. The plan was to retire then but I was talked into staying on. I wish I hadn’t. The past few years have been an eye opener. my expectations and what actually happened, night and day. At the beginning of this season I made it clear it would be my last. Over these many years I put my heart and soul into this. I worked very hard at it. As a family we sacrificed alot. It’s time now to make our family the center of attention. Yup, it’s actually a very very late wake up call but in the end better late than never.
I think it will happen. On the Saturday Italy was to play Germany I found myself having a conversation about the Euro tournament with some of the Lakeshore PLSQ players prior to our scheduled match…The day i now refer to as “Dark Saturday”.. One player commented that he felt that everything was lining up for Portugal to win it all. He may be right.
I read a tweet yesterday that mentioned that in 1982 Italy won the World Cup after having tied all three of their group stage matches..I don’t necessarily believe there was a comparison being made but i don’t know that you can actually make one. For one, can you really make a comparison to something that happened way back in 1982 ;)? Secondly, the 3 draws for Italy were enough to get them out of the group stage. The same cannot be said for Portugal had the format not changed. Also, in 1982 Italy got better each game after the group stage. I don’t think you can say the same for Portugal …except for one person. Ronaldo. He’s gotten better and for a player of his caliber you knew it was just a matter of time. That’s why you can’t have a team that has CR7 linger in a tournament because you know at one point it will come back to haunt you. He’s just that good. I am a fan of Ronaldo and while he did struggle in the group stage and people shat on him on twitter, i defended him… Not that i have much clout! lol
In one of my earlier posts.. a post i wrote shortly after Italy was eliminated by Germany.. i wrote that i wasn’t sure who to root for but it certainly wouldn’t be Portugal. At the time, the emotions were still high and the anger over Italy being eliminated still present but now that time has healed my wounds (somewhat) i will change my tune and will root for Ronaldo. He deserves it.
Italy lost yesterday at the Euro to Germany in PKs.. I was not able to watch the game. Well, it wasn’t so much that I was not able to but chose instead not to due to my unbelievable sense of obligation. I was committed to being at our scheduled league games and although I was a skip and hop away from my house I opted not to leave when the Italy match started. I did record the match but nowadays it’s almost impossible not to hear or know the result. In any case I couldn’t help myself but look anyway.
Italy fared well in this tournament. Described as the worse team put together for Italy in a long time not many thought they would do well. A lot of people were questioning Conte’s player selection. During a televised show where the whole team was there including Conte, the hostess point blank asked Conte if he thought he selected the best possible players. What a stupid and inappropriate question. Considering the players he selected were present as well. How do you expect him to answer this question? In any case, I think Italy answered that question on the pitch. It’s unfortunate to lose the way they did but that’s how the ball rolls sometimes. Believe it or not I called that Italy would beat Spain as much as I got mocked for it and I also predicted that the Germany game would go to shoot-outs… only I had Italy winning it. Oh well. As I wrote earlier I do have the game recorded but I am not sure if I will watch it. Atleast not immediately.. I am still reeling from it and all the tweets on this subject.
I want to say that at this point I really don’t care who wins it but that would be a lie. It would bother the shit out of me if Portugal wins it. A team that has played uninspired soccer so far.. was not able to win one game in the group stage and yet because of their easy bracket find themselves in the semis no less. Pure garbage.
I feel so gutted for this man…
It will be so weird not seeing him suit up for the national team.