Because playing soccer as a kid was a great experience and I want to enable kids to have that same experience? Nah. I played exactly zero games of soccer growing up. In fact, I was not particularly athletic and team sports generally were not so much my thing. In a way I kind of fell into coaching. When I started in youth ministry in my College Hills neighborhood (on the west side of Birmingham) back in 1996 I was leading a Scouting program (which I sorely miss doing, but that is another story). The boys wanted to do team sports. So we did. Over time we brought in girls as well. After a couple years I got tired of going through the year rotating sports and just scratching the surface for the kids (and me) to really learn them. Roughly around 2002 I made the decision to focus on soccer and NorthStar Soccer Club emerged as a program.
But this blog is not a boring, ministry history lesson. Why do I coach? Why am I excited about coaching, keep doing it year after year, and firmly believe in the value of the enterprise? It wasn't very long ago that I struggled with thinking of my life's work as 'just sports.' When I talked to others about the mission of NorthStar I was always careful to make it clear that soccer for us was 'just a tool.' It had value because kids liked doing it and that gave us an opening to do impact their lives in other (more important) ways. This was not a wrong or bad thought process by any means. But the result of this thinking was that - for a time - I relied on others who had more knowledge and experience of soccer to coach soccer while I focused on relationships with kids and parents. But, I found that from a practical standpoint I needed to be ready to coach. The ministry needed me to coach but my knowledge and experience left me feeling unequipped to coach anywhere other than the magic ages of 7-9. Gradually over time I learned the game and became more confident. I also began to discover that it is through the act of coaching itself that all kinds of opportunities to encourage and impact youth take place. My perspective began to change. I began to experience seeing kids who were unathelic like I was gaining skills and growing in confidence. I began to apply readings on how confidence is actually gained (through skill mastery) and to think more deeply about how the lessons learned in soccer could be transferable to all of life. That progression took place over the course of a couple of years. Then the Shut-Down happened this spring and I went into study mode. In my next blog I will share more details of reflections from Every Moment Matters by John O'Sullivan. For now I will leave with my new coaching purpose statement. Answering the question 'Why Do I Coach?'
I Coach to help kids: experience the encouragement that flows from having supportive teammates; gain confidence in their own ability to set goals and work hard to achieve them; rise to the challenge of providing positive leadership to others wherever God places them in life.
I also have newly developed NorthStar Soccer Purpose Statement & Values (in the brochure to the right).
. This personal purpose statement connects well with that organizational statement. Next step is leading other coaches to do this same work. I am eager to get through this COVID craziness and unleash new insights into my work with kids.