Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Yes, that's me on the sidelines at a soccer game, looking at important papers, making very important decisions. I'm a power player now in the world of AYSO soccer. Specifically, I'm Mia's coach. How this came to be is a tale of power-grabbing, false alliances, shady back-room deals, and full-grown adults acting like snippy middle-schoolers.
The Reader's Digest Abridged version of that story is this: Some parents on the team were not happy with the coach for many reasons, giving the whole team a negative vibe, an undercurrent of dissatisfaction. (It didn't help that the team hasn't been winning lately). Then at a recent practice there was a coaching tantrum, which led to a parent-coach tête-à-tête, which led to many of the parents going to the powers-that-be (a mini-drama in itself) demanding a change of leadership. At that parents' meeting, it became plain that a coup d'etat was a fait accompli, and the discussion turned to the question "qui est la grande fromage now?" Only one parent on the team was properly certified, but she lamented that she didn't "know anything about soccer." Of course, this begs some intriguing questions about the certification process, but we'll let that be for now.
Absent during the inciting event, I had little to say at the parents meeting. I was sitting quietly reading Alexander Schmemann's Liturgical Theology, when a parent said: "Hey, you know how to play, don't you? I've seen you work after practice with Mia. You know what you're doing. Why don't you coach?"
"Yes," I replied. "I did play when I was young and spry. And I do know what I'm doing. But I'm not certified. And there are other problems...." And then I suddenly became, much to my own surprise, the truth-telling equal-opportunity prophetic scold, chastising one faction for undermining the coach's authority with snide comments on the sideline, and chastising the other for culpable loyalty, ignoring manifest coaching faults. I don't remember exactly what I said -- I think I might have been channelling Dr. Phil.
Anyway, you might expect that I'd be blacklisted after that. Apparently not. Instead, the parents decided to make the certified mom head coach, and me the "unofficial assistant coach." Unofficial, because I'm not certified. But you can guess who actually assigns positions, yells encouragement and instruction to the girls at the game, and runs drills at practice. Yes, I'm the Karl Rove of AYSO.
By the way, we won our first game Saturday 3-0.