When duty calls, I respond. When confronted with hunger, I offer my nipple as nourishment. When cornered by a gang of angry youths, I thrash about wildly before collapsing into a defeated sob on the cold, hard concrete.
The point is when Event occurs, it inspires a Reaction in me. And sometimes those reactions are positive. After all, I’ve spent way more of my adult life outside of a prison cell than within. So far. Fight the power.
Duty called for me again recently. This time, Duty took the form of a community soccer coach for my filly’s team. My community is woefully short of parents versed in popular non-American sports involving a bespeckled two-toned ball. I, however, gallantly roamed the tundra from ages 10-12 chasing previously described ball making me an expert in the sport. At least, compared to the other parents.
When word of the need got out, I strode into the office and plopped my hastily filled application on the desk as the clouds parted and a celestial band of light stretched down and engulfed me amidst a symphony of harps.
With squared jaw and booming voice, I proclaimed, “Do not despair. I am heeerre to coach soccer. Your troubles are over.”
I could sense the relief and joy bursting underneath the receptionist’s disinterested and distracted demeanor. She was a wonder in restraint! She scanned the document no doubt searching for the hidden source of my majestic aura (as if Superman’s strength could be found on his resume!?)
“Okay. You have a pulse. You’ll do.”
And that is why soccer flourishes this fall for my filly and dozens of other kids her age. Because of me and my heroic act. I say this humbly as I’m not given to immodesty, as you know. I’m spectacularly, enviably modest, in fact.* Sure there were ten other coaches at this level already signed up and in place but they needed eleven to make it work. And what good is ten when you need eleven? Not much. Thanks but no thanks to the other ten. To paraphrase Spinal Tap, why is 11 better than 10? Because it’s one more than ten.
With whistle askew like General MacArthur’s pipe and clipboard firmly clenched to my side beneath folded arm, I patrol the practice field determined to stamp out errors, frivolity and unrehearsed spontaneity so common in youth soccer. This will be a well oiled machine. There are six of them but only four will see the field of play at any one time. That is the league rules. My rules are that we will play with less than four if I don’t have four that have inspired my full confidence and approval for live game action. I will not go into battle with a weak link.
The first game is this weekend. I have spent the last two weeks breaking them down and rebuilding them in my image.** They are no longer interested in Wii games or Santa Clause or Webkinz. In fact, they no longer feel emotion and can’t even imagine life past the last game. The look in their eyes makes the hair stand up on the back of my…back. It could scare the The Wiggles into dressing in monochrome.
Just how I like it.
The kids do not have names yet. At least, not to me. They will not receive any individual honors – such as a name – or recognition of their existence until they score a goal for me. They are merely independent powered, juice boxed fueled potential goal scorers at this point.
History is rife with tales of people called to duty in times of peril. Some ignore the call. Some step forward.
My call came in the form of a community email burst informing us that “if another coach doesn’t volunteer we’ll sprinkle the remaining kids into the other existing teams which is not a problem at all.”
I answered the call.
By the end of this soccer season, I will not be the coach of a disorderly, recreational soccer team.
I will be a Leader of Men.
**And if any of you want to make a crack about the kids getting calve cramps during the game, you can bite your tongue.
15 long run miles on the docket this weekend.
I'm a TV watcher and not afraid to admit it. If you didn't catch the season premiere of F/X's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" last night, shame on you. Don't call yourself a fan of comedy. The second episode, The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis, might have been the funniest show I've seen in a long, long time. I nearly wet my diaper...if I still wore a diaper, that is. Ahem.