Over the weekend, I watched the U11/U12 kids I help coach in a tournament. I saw so many things that made the weekend successful that many parents, coaches and kids might not have recognized. I wasn’t directly involved in the situation so I had the opportunity to observe.
All the parents and kids had a BBQ once the tournament was over. It was awesome to see everyone come together when I’m sure it would have been easy to jet out and miss the New York traffic.
One by one, the kids started to leave with their parents. Everyone said bye and that they would see each other Tuesday.
We have one player in our program who is a little different. She made sure that as players were leaving she not only said bye to them, but also told them they did a great job over the weekend. That struck me like a ball to the face. Here’s an 11-year-old who isn’t thinking about her self, who wants to make sure her teammates know they had a good weekend and in the process has no inkling that she’s making people around her re-think how they’re operating.
This seems like such a small task, yet it has consumed me since it happened on Sunday.
I thought about how I felt watching her, how no one really thought much of it. I thought about signing autographs for 11-year-olds at clinics who don’t look at me or even say thank you. I thought about how I feel when I leave practice without anyone telling me I did a good job. I thought about the times I wanted to say good job to someone and didn’t because… I just don’t have a good reason for it. There is no good reason for it.
The beauty of sport and the beauty of life is that there aren’t awards for some of the things people do and they do them anyway. Those are my favorite kind of people. That’s why this player stuck out to me so much. No one was getting a trophy that day for saying good job to someone else. No one was getting their name in the paper. In fact, I’m not even sure if all the kids heard her say good job as they walked away.
When I reflect on the season the Spirit had, I think about all the little things I did well and the little things I could have done better. If I don’t do this, then what’s the point of starting a new season? I don’t think there is any. I feel as though I have to be different each year, even if different just means better.
I also think about my teammates and the awards that don’t exist for all the great things they do. There’s no award for Tori Huster driving her foreign teammates around the DMV area. There’s no award for Kelsey Wys cleaning up the training field after each session. There’s no award for Jen Skogerboe coming to every training session and appearance while not on contract with the Spirit. There’s no award for Caprice Dydasco asking if I need someone to do extra training with after a session. Let me be clear, this is a small list. I can't possibly include everything. But these are things that will stick with me long after I forget which games we won or lost – these are the things that make team sports special.
Thanks to an 11-year-old, and my teammates, I think I can be much better next season. I’ll keep a closer eye on my teammates to be 100 percent sure they know how great they are. Because at the end of the day, if everyone is okay and everyone does a little extra, that will translate to success on the field. And that's what we're all after here. Playing good soccer with good people.
To emphasize my point, please watch this video with Anson Dorrance. He talks about how important all this stuff is in the grand scheme of sports and life. And he knows a thing or two about both.