Tag Archives: Soccer

Rich Kid, Poor Kid

My wife and I picked up my step-son from his grandparents’ house after school on Thursday.  As is my habit, I asked him about his day.  He huffed and started telling us that a kid at school had called him poor and was trying to keep his classmates from sitting with him (like a modern version of the cooties).  The frustration was very evident in his voice.  At ten years of age, he wasn’t properly equipped to defend his parents’ financial position.  Digging deeper, I asked him what had prompted this hubbub.  It was a paper bag.  Because Carter takes his lunch to school in a paper bag, he is being labeled poor.  What has happened to society?  

Friday night after soccer, he wanted one of his teammates to spend the night.  I had earlier overhead his friend attempting to make other arrangements.  Rather than have anyone feel left out, I made the executive decision to let 2 of his teammates come over for an all night battle to save the universe by way of the Xbox.  

Mark has been to our home several times.  But this was Jeremy’s first visit and after exploring our home, he exclaimed to me in amazement, with Carter present, “Y’all must be rich!”  I’m not sure what Jeremy’s family’s financial situation is, but it must not be the best for him to consider us “rich.”  We are by no means wealthy by most people’s standards.  Comfortable maybe, but not rich.

In just over 24 hours, my stepson had been called poor and rich.

Sunday night, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with him and asked him to talk about both incidents.  He was still angry at being called poor.  “Why does that make you angry?” I asked.  “Because I have a computer, a cell phone, and an iTouch” he replied.  I continued, “Do you think having those things makes you rich?”   He paused.  I think he wanted to answer “yes” but something told him it wasn’t the RIGHT answer.

I then asked if he thought we were rich.  “No” he answered.  

“What makes someone rich?”

Another long pause.

“Lots of money?” he guessed.

Before I answered I had to think carefully, because this was a critical learning moment.  What does make someone rich?

“Being rich is having God, family and friends in your life.”  It was the best I could come up with and the longer I dwelt upon it, it really is the right age appropriate answer.

I hugged him goodnight and as I was walking out the door, he said “Chris, if that’s what rich is, I’m really really rich.”

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

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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.

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Coach Angryman

I’ve coached sports for my kids for many years now, starting with my daughter’s softball team, my son’s football team, and now my step-son’s soccer team.  I get more joy out of watching kids develop and seeing their face light up when they do something that didn’t think they could do than just about anything.  

Last year, the soccer team I was co-coaching was pretty good.  We had lost a few games through the year, but nothing larger than a margin of 2 point.  Because our town is so small and we were the only team in our age group, we were able to represent our town in the area tournament.  

Right away we faced a team that beat us in the regular season and, again, they beat us and put us in the losers bracket of the tournament.  This team was extremely aggressive and fast.  They played right at the line of unsportsmanlike like, pushing and throwing elbows when the referees weren’t looking.  Alas, it’s one part of the game I do not like, but it’s not altogether uncommon in some towns.

We managed to win the remaining games and late that Saturday night, we faced the undefeated team yet again.  We lost to them in the regular season, and earlier in the day.  To say that confidence wasn’t high would be an understatement.  They were big, fast, and skilled…and a little bit mean too.  

I’m not going to drag the story out because it’s only setting the stage.  We beat the team by one goal.  Our kids played the game of their lives, every one playing above their skill level.  Unfortunately, the evening had a stain on it.  The coach of the other team was livid.  He yelled and screamed at his kids the entire time.  I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard to inspire 8 and 9 year old kids that way.  To top it off, after the game he refused to line up to shake hands and to sign the official scorecard.  Wow.

Fast forward to the first game of this season, two weeks ago.  Coach Angryman brought his team to our humble field for the season opener.  The game was never in contention.  We won 10-2.  Again, he showed his proverbial rear-end by getting into a verbal altercation with the referee about missing an off-sides call that I couldn’t have made  where I was standing, and Coach Angryman was 30 yards further away than I was.  To make matters worse, one of our players decided to dish out a little of what he had been receiving all game (against our wishes) and Coach Angryman said some not so nice words to him after the game.  Not wanting things to escalate any further, I gave the young man a quick lecture about being the better person, and to ignore the other coach.  I had to fight my own inner Angryman not to Crane-Kick him, Daniel Larusso style. 

This past weekend, we traveled to Mr. Angryman’s city to play another team.  When we were walking to drop our gear on the sidelines, we saw him walking toward us.  The other coach leaned in and whispered, “Here he comes.”

He reached out his hand and immediately said, “I’m so sorry about how I acted.  I don’t handle frustration well and I was more than frustrated with my own team.  I wanted to apologize to you and the young man I said something to.  Where is he?”  We called him over and the coach stuck out his hand and offered his apology to him, saying he was a great soccer player and he should never have said anything to him.

Talk about a total transformation.  My opinion of this guy went from lower than dog poop, to respect, not because he apologized to me and the other coach, but because he humbled himself in front of an 11 year old boy.  He could have asked us to tell him he was sorry, instead he chose to do it himself.  

When we realize that we’ve done something inappropriate to someone else, how motivated are we to chase down someone and fall face first on the ground asking for forgiveness?  Someone doesn’t have to apologize to be forgiven.  But it’s awesome to see someone grow by lowering themselves, even old Angrymen…even me.

Be awesome!

Chris