Coached by an 11 Year Old

Since I’ve had kids old enough to play sports or participate in team activities, I’ve coached.  My resume includes T-ball, softball, baseball, football, soccer, & Destination Imagination (check this one out).  Every team & child has had a distinct personality, but over time the kids have grown up, some are even married with kids of their own.   I’ve forgotten names and the faces are now blurry.  But often, one touches my heart.  

This year it’s Ethan (not his real name).  Ethan is obese.  During warm ups at soccer practice, he struggles to stretch.  When time comes to run a lap, he always goes last because he doesn’t want to hold up the line.  From the outside, there’s nothing remarkable.  I coached teams in the past years that’s played against him, and never really gave him a second thought.  However this year, I’ve discovered there’s a very special person shining bright for those that get to know him.

The first thing I noticed about Ethan was his manners.  He never asks or answers a question without a please or sir.  That is, unfortunately, becoming a rare trait in today’s youth.  Ethan is the first to help up a fallen team mate, or offer knuckles or a high five for a nice play.  His smile is infectious, as is his positive attitude.  

Friday night at practice, I asked him his plans for the night.  He said he was going home, getting his homework finished, so he could spend the rest of the weekend being awesome.  “What did you say?”  I asked.  He repeated his plans.  I was blown away by his answer.  It sat on my brain all night and I had to get more details.

After Saturday’s game, I asked Ethan how his Friday night went.  He said it was fine.  I then asked him what he meant the night before by “being awesome.”  He said that he thinks of ways to be a better person, and ways to be nice to other people.  Holy crap.  This is an 11 year old kid!  I patted his shoulder and told him to never stop being awesome.  He looked up and said “Never!” and jogged off to his parents.

I’m amazed at kid’s attitude.  Instead of feeling left out or embarrassed by his obesity, as I sometimes do (by definition, I’m obese as well), he totally ignores it and creates light in the darkness.  

I think I’m the one being coached this season, by an 11 year old, and I’ll gladly forfeit my title to be just like him.



5 thoughts on “Coached by an 11 Year Old

  1. Michele Clark

    This post is awesome! It’s great to see young people with such great attitudes, especially when life seems ever so much harder for them these days. BTW, I’ve coached Destination Imagination as well as Odyssey of the MInd (basically the same thing) before also. What a great “outside the box” learning experience that was. Keep up the good work, Coach!

    1. LifeStrategy101 Post author

      I loved DI! I coached for 6 years (3 with my daughter and 3 with my oldest son). My step-son’s school doesn’t participate. I’m saddened by the dropping participation numbers over the last few years. When I started, the area tournament has over 100 teams. This past year, almost every team went to the state tournament by default because there were only one or two teams participating in each challenge. Good for you for volunteering!

  2. Elizabeth Rose

    My daughters DI team made it to globals last year and that was quite an experience!!! I’ve loving meeting Ethan through you! What an amazing kid!! Love when we can really take the time to learn from the kids we are there to teach.. Keep being Awesome Ethan!!!

    1. LifeStrategy101 Post author

      My oldest son, Riley, was at DI Globals as well. Although I was only able to coach his team for 3 years, he stayed with it from 4th through 12th grade. “Ethan” really is special!


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