It is again soccer Saturday. Both teams played well. My younger team won after being down three goals. Their final score was 8-6. It was probably one of the best all around games they’ve played. I have three goalies, with one playing goalie more than the other two. Last season he got really anxious and struggled to make saves. Earlier this season he struggled some and felt like he wasn’t a good teammate. Last weekend he played the game of his life because his grandparents and great-grandmother were there. Today he topped that performance with an even better game. He made saves we didn’t expect him to make and was on fire. I was so impressed with him. I was impressed with all of the team. Everyone played so hard.
On my way over to the second game, my wife told me about this grandfather that was there just talking shit about me and how there’s books I can learn from to be a better coach. Well, there’s an entire self-help section he can look for in any bookstore AND online to become a decent human being. Apparently he coached back in the day and he didn’t even know what he was doing. That’s lovely, old timer. I do know what I am doing. I am mentoring young players to have confidence in themselves and their abilities, while also simultaneously working on being better at soccer.
The bigger part of me is like “WTF ever old dude. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Ironically the grandmother of this player on the other side sent me a nice email last season about what a great coach I was for this team. I am focused on that, the kid who told me he wanted me to be his coach forever, the way one of the player’s dad always finds a way to be positive and complimentary of the new things I try with the team, and most of all, the joy I see in their faces when we win another game.
But there’s a small part of me that’s like fuck it. Life was easier when I never tried to put myself out there and take chances. That part wants to stop coaching completely and pull the kids from soccer. Both of them.
But that’s the thing…life was EASIER, not BETTER. Even though my wife wants to punch this guy in the mouth repeatedly and this very small part of me hurts a little bit, my life is better like this. Life feels so much richer when I take chances and put myself out there to be hurt. I was withdrawn and unhappy for so long. I felt like I wasn’t worth anything and no one would want to get to know me. But I don’t feel like that anymore, so one nasty person’s words has no affect on me. He is no one to me. I’m not sure he ever came to any other games these past two seasons anyway. His grandson is lovely. His grandson’s parents are lovely. He is an asshole.
But all of my shit aside, it really makes me think about how people are just mean to each other. He doesn’t know anything about me, why I coach, my background, how the players feel about me, or even my last name. So why be mean? What is lacking in his life that he has become so nasty that he is intentionally saying horrible things out loud that other people can hear? I challenge anyone who thinks it’s acceptable to be mean how they would feel if their life was nothing but beat downs and criticism of everything. Because that’s how I, and so many others, grew up. And hearing all that negativity hurts. Instead of being so salty, try smiling at people or saying something nice. Or just keeping your damn mouth shut if you can’t be nice.
I refuse to let this one old man take away my happiness, make me question if I should coach or not, or give it another thought. Goodbye old man. I will not waste another minute of my time thinking about you and how awful you are.
It’s not hard to be nice. And if it is, there’s a ton of books to teach yourself how to be a decent human being.