To My Son’s Soccer Coach

Soccer Boys

To My Son’s Soccer Coach:

Last weekend, after the final game of the season, you posed with my son and his seven teammates in front of the goal for some team pictures. There you were, one man towering over eight little boys with their arms linked like a chain, big smiles on each face. You tolerated the parent paparazzi and even humored the boys with a crazy-face picture. You didn’t complain; you just acted like a nine-year-old, too, but I’m pretty sure that you were glad when the photo session was over.

Coach, lots of kids play soccer these days, and many of them have similar pictures on the shelves in their rooms. But to my son, this picture – this team, this experience – it is all so special. This team picture represents so much more than just the hours that he spent kicking a ball around with some friends. It is bigger than his successes and his mistakes on the field. It is more significant than the assists that he made or the points that he defended or the breakaways that he finished. And every time I see that picture, Coach, I wonder if you know, if you really understand, just how much you mean to my kid.

My son is a lucky guy. He has some great men in his life, men of integrity, who are training him to be a great man, too. His dad is always cheering on the sidelines. His grandpas love him more than words. His uncles spoil him with gifts and attention. But there is something about you, the other man in his life, that matters to him so much. There is something there that is hard to explain, something special about the relationship between a boy and his coach. I don’t know if you feel it, Coach, but I know that he does, and I hear that the other boys do, too.

You should know that my son, like most little boys, complains about a lot of things. He complains about homework. He complains about taking care of the dog. He complains about brushing his teeth at night. But one thing that he never complains about is going to practice. Every cell in that kid’s body desires to work hard and play hard with his team. He is hungry to learn and to improve for himself and his friends. If he doesn’t feel well and can’t attend school, no problem, but just the thought of missing a practice or a game can reduce my little man to tears. His team gives him a drive and a purpose, and you set the positive tone for that. You teach him to sweat, to show leadership, and to strive to improve. You teach him to persevere when things aren’t easy. You teach him what the give and take of being a teammate really means. These aren’t just lessons that are important in soccer; these are lessons that will guide him for the rest of his life.

Listen, Coach, I live with two little boys, and I know how frustrating they can be. I’m guessing you’ve already noticed, but sometimes they don’t listen. Okay, let’s be honest: A lot of the time, they don’t listen. They can be looking right into your eyes, nodding in agreement, and still not be paying attention to a single word that you’ve said. I’ve been there, Coach; I get it. I also know that they are easily distracted. SO easily distracted! I imagine that if a squirrel runs by or an airplane flies overhead during practice, you probably lose ten minutes just trying to get eight little boys back on track. Then there’s that little boy thing where they can’t keep their hands off each other. I don’t understand it, but I live with them, and I know that even the simplest, quietest activity always ends in wrestle mania. And let’s not forget that sometimes little boys can be insensitive with their words while at the same time being incredibly sensitive with their feelings. Stir all of this craziness into a pot, and the fact that you accomplish anything in the short amount of time that you spend with these animals is something amazing. And you keep coming back week after week, Coach. I guess, like us parents, you also see their joy, their innocence, their loyalty, their honesty, and their pure, undefiled love of the game. Thanks, Coach, for focusing on the positive when my kid tries your patience, and I know that he and his friends sometimes do.

Your time coaching our son is busy, and our evenings are often a rush, so we don’t have many opportunities to talk to you, but I want you to know that we see what you do. You might think that we parents are judging you by the wins and the scores, but that’s not really true. Sure, we want our team to be competitive, we want to see our children grow, but we have entrusted you with our greatest treasures, so there are lots of other things that matter from the sideline. Like that time you put your arm around my son while he was sitting on the bench. Do you remember? Probably not. But I do, and I promise I won’t forget that moment. It mattered to me more than anything else in that game. I’m telling you, I notice.

Every fist bump that you’ve given him when he runs off the field.

Every pat on the back that you’ve shared when he’s having a rough game.

Every serious, one-on-one consultation on the sidelines.

Every team huddle and chant.

Every time you have stood up for a player on our team.

Every time my son has deserved your frustration but received your caring instruction instead.

And then there were the times when a player was injured and you immediately ran to his aid. Do you have any idea how agonizing it is for a mom to allow someone else to be the first responder when her child is hurt just a few feet away? But I know that my son would find comfort in you if he were suffering, and that matters more to me than the score.

There were highlights this season, moments when my son’s skills shined and his contributions made a huge difference to his team’s success. You were the first one to congratulate him on those occasions, and that meant so much. And there were times, like every player experiences, when he did not play his best. We all saw it, Coach. I don’t know why he was having a bad day, but I do know that he didn’t want to disappoint you. I saw how you treated him when he was already down. You saw him for what he is, a kid with skills that are still developing, a kid who doesn’t always perform on cue. He could have been an easy target for a frustrated coach, but you didn’t even yell at him. You encouraged him. You instructed him. You motivated him to keep trying and to want to improve at the game that he loves.

Here’s the thing, Coach. We aren’t trying to raise a world-class athlete here, although we do encourage our boys to follow their dreams. We are trying to raise a man, a man who works hard and plays fair, a man who learns from his mistakes and always perseveres, a man who encourages others and shows compassion and shares grace. A man like his dad and his granddads. A man like you.

Thank you for showing my kid that soccer, as much as he loves it, is just a game, but being a part of a productive, positive team can be his real life.

Thank you for being a part of OUR team.

Sincerely,

A Soccer Mom

55 thoughts on “To My Son’s Soccer Coach

  1. Awesome!! Words straight from my heart, but so eloquently written by my dear friend!! But note-to-self…don’t read these when I am in a classroom full of teenagers…because it’s for sure that I will cry!!

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  2. Soccer Mom,

    Thank you for sharing such amazing words. Your piece is very well-written, and struck some emotional cords within me that I forgot existed. This coach to which you refer is a good man. Though I have not had an opportunity to witness what you have, I have a feeling that he will continue to have a positive impact on many young lives, and will be an incredible father to his own children someday.

    Again, thank you for sharing 🙂

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  3. Thank you for your kind response, JB! I’m glad that this post resonated with you. As far as your predictions, I think you are exactly right! 🙂

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  4. Pingback: A Letter to My Son's Coach | Changing the Game Project

  5. I am a youth football (soccer) coach, and I would be in bits if I received this message! 🙂

    I hope your sons coach did see this, because if he is anything like me then it would make his year!

    Lovely writing from the heart, well done for writing.

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  6. Great read
    My son has become a great coach,and he had me read your letter,
    Beautifully put,and he also learns a great deal from all of his kids,
    Thanks

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  7. So well written. This is an important reminder for me as a Coach to remember how impressionable the children are . Thank you!

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  8. Pingback: A Letter to My Son’s Coach - Reno & Truckee - Competitive Youth Soccer Club - Barcelona NorCal

  9. Thank you, Paul. I never imagined that my heartfelt post would touch so many people. Thank you for reading and commenting, and thank you for devoting your time and energy to kids. 🙂

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  10. I’m sorry that I brought you to tears, Troy! 🙂 Thank you for reading my blog and for letting me know that my letter to my son’s coach touched you. What you do for kids matters!

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  11. That is such a great point, Paul. I am a teacher, and I learn as much from my students as they learn from me, I think. Your pride in your son shines through in your comments! The fact that he devotes his time to helping others grow would make any father proud.

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  12. Thank you for your kind comments, Mike! Yes, I shared it with my son’s coach when I initially posted, not knowing, of course, that it would be shared so many times and even around the world. My husband has coached many times, as well. All of you deserve to hear what so many parents are thinking but don’t know how to say. I’m thankful that I had the words. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. While I’m not a soccer mom, I am a hockey mom and this letter had me in tears because I know exactly what you’re talking about and too am lucky to have found this on my sons team. Beautifully written!

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  14. Hillary, I agree that this could apply to so many different sports. My kids have played on a variety of teams, and, while I had my son’s soccer coach in mind because he has worked with him so much recently, I was also thinking about their other coaches and my husband, who is a talented coach, as well. I’m glad that this post moved you. 🙂 Thank you for reading my blog today!

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  15. What a fantastic article!
    My son is one of the coaches for this program and I will share this with him because the amount of commitment these coaches dedicate to these boys is nothing short of astonishing.
    They are all so much more than coaches and make such a difference. Thank you for this beautifully written piece.

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  16. Pingback: Teachers as mentors, as role models - Boundary Oak School, Wickham, Southampton

  17. Thank you, Robert. We make our mistakes (a lot of them!), but we do try to show gratitude. Shouldn’t everyone?

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  18. You really are valued! Why is it that we as human beings are quick to complain but slow to share thanks? I am excited that you are feeling appreciated by reading this. That is exactly what I wanted my son’s coach to feel!

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  19. The grind of a every season causes so many coaches, including myself, to forget the PASSION and the WHY behind why we all became coaches at the start. This is a great reminder and a must-read for all coaches because all coaches need to be reminded WHY we got started so that we can finish strong.

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  20. I’m so glad this post resonated with you and reminded you why you do what you do! My husband is a coach, as well, so I have seen firsthand the sacrifices that coaches make. I also know how rarely you hear just how much good you are doing for kids, so I couldn’t be more excited that this post took off the way that it did! Thanks for visiting my blog, Chase!

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  21. What a wonderful post! I sure hope your son’s coach has seen this. My husband hasn’t coached for about 4 years but he coached hockey for 13 years. To this day, if we happen to be at a rink there’s bound to be a young adult who comes up to him with a huge smile, a big “Coach!” and a high-five. It means everything to him that he touched these kid’s lives enough that they go out of their way to come up and say hi and have a chat, in many cases, years after he had them on his team as little kids.

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  22. As a u12 girls coach, thank you for this 🙂
    I love my girls more than anything in the world and as much as they do try my patience, they give me hope. They show me how wonderful the future is for my daughter. I see great things in these kids, we just have to give them a tiny little push and let them do the rest! I wish that everyone could experience what I get to experience every spring and fall. I hope that every season I contribute to them and their character in the same way my soccer coach contributed to mine.

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  23. Thank you for all of the time and energy that you devote to your team, Robert! My husband also coaches, and I know how much he gives every week and how much he also gets in return. You may never know just how much you have influenced those kids!

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  24. This is simply beautiful. My husband has coached my son’s soccer teams for nearly six years and for the past three has also coached my daughter. I can tell you that the moments I hear about most often at home are the interesting conversations he had with a child on the sidelines, the pride he watched in a child who had a particularly good day, the way he felt when during a tough game the kids pulled together and cheered for each other and kept playing their hearts out. We rarely remember the scores a few days later, but those moments — the fist bumps, the connections — are the ones never forgotten. And I know those are the ones that make my kids the proudest to call their dad “coach.”

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  25. A coach will impact more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime!!! It is up to us as coaches as to how we will impact that person/s …either positively or negatively. Remember those “little eyes” are watching and mimicking our every move. So………make sure you walk the talk, not only “do as I say but do as I do!

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  26. As a high school teacher (kind of like a coach!), I love the first line that you wrote, Rene. Teaching and coaching can be challenging, but when we really think about all of the lives that we are able to influence in positive ways, well, that is just amazing.

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  27. Katrina, although I wrote this about my son’s coach when our soccer season ended, I was also thinking about my husband, who has devoted many, many hours to coaching basketball over the years. You hit the nail on the head with your comment. We rarely talk about scores over dinner, but we have stories about kids and conversations and memorable moments that come up over and over again. My husband gets as much out of coaching as the kids get from playing the sport!

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  28. Pingback: The PE Playbook – February 2016 Edition – drowningintheshallow

  29. My son , the Coach !
    I lend my son to you , my son who I brought up to make memories and travel the world enjoying what he loves best ! In my part of the world that is football ! In yours it is soccer ! I hope he has done you proud as he does me everyday . I miss him terribly but I know his heart belongs there . Teaching the new youth of today how to follow there dreams as he has done . So my son . The Coach all the way from my heart in the Uk ! I love you ❤️ Mom ❤️

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  30. My mum just told me to google this letter. I am sitting here while my son and his mate are kicking the ball around. I have tears running down my face. He plays soccer and I so hope he has this relationship with his coach. Thanks for writing this.

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  31. I am so happy (and surprised!) that my thoughts and feelings about my son’s coach have moved so many mothers around the world! Motherhood is a common bond, for sure! Thanks for commenting, and I hope your son has a similar experience. I’m sure he will at some time!

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  32. Debi, I am so thankful for your response! How interesting it is to look at this post from a different perspective, the point of view of the mother of the soccer player who grew up to become the coach himself. I am so thankful for mothers like you who raise respectable young men and then let them go to help moms like me raise our own young men. What a sacrifice for you! Where does your son coach?

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  33. Hello
    Steven is now at copal Soccer Club in Texas there new CYSA Director of Coaching
    This is Stevens 5th year and he has traveled widely doing what he loves best . I am so very proud of him and what he has acheaved .
    (I thank god for our weekly Skype sessions)

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  34. I am sure you are so very proud! Thank goodness that we have technology now that makes the distance more tolerable. 🙂

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