My Husband's Superpower: Chronicles of a Volunteer Coach

My kids are really lucky to have the dad they do.

Like most dads, my husband devotes his life to our family. He rushes home from work in order to have an hour of daylight to shoot hoops with our daughter in the driveway. He skips nights out with the guys so that he can read bedtime stories to our toddler. Years ago he "retired" from participation in men's basketball and softball leagues so he'd have more time to devote to our children's after school activities.

He is pretty selfless when it comes to our kids. He usually "plays down" the effort and dedication he gives to our family as "normal" or something that "all" dads do. I agree, he is mostly right, most dads do get actively involved in their children's lives. I can't think of many dad's I know who aren't putting their own children first.

But not all dads do what he does. Not to the extent that he does it. My husband is pretty much a superhero in my children's eyes, and I couldn't be more thankful for that.

But even superheros get criticized sometimes.

I have to admit that I do occastionally get frustrated with how involved he is in our children's athletic activities. My husband has volunteer coached most seasons of baseball, soccer, and basketball for our kids starting from when my oldest son was just 3 years old. I really do love that he is involved, but I am definitely envious of the parents that get to sit together on the sidelines and smile, recline in their pop-up seats, and cheer their child on, side-by-side.

I really haven't had that experience as a parent. I recognize that it is selfish of me to want my husband's companionship more than I want him to coach my kids sometimes. I argue that my selfishness is somewhat merited though, as I am rarely able to really watch my kids play; I have to chase around my other children, walk them to the potty, break up fights, and divvy out iPads and snacks during the games. This all while attempting to watch my other child play in his or her game.

But this is just one of the sacrifices our family makes so that my husband can volunteer coach.

When I get lost in my narcissism, I am often reminded why, in the end, I am really glad that he doesn't listen to me. I am reminded why I am thankful he is the man that he is.

This fall was the perfect example.

This season we decided to have our oldest two kids play soccer with a new league. It is different than other soccer leagues we have played with and we were really excited to have them experience a dedicated coach on a more organized team. I was secretly ecstatic to finally have our superhero sit beside me on the sidelines, and not with the kiddos on the bench. 

A week before soccer was to begin, we received emails from the league for both of our kid's teams stating that their was no coach for either one. OF COURSE I was disappointed. The emails asked if a parent volunteer could take on the task of coaching, otherwise, the teams might dissipate. Well, I knew my husband couldn't let that happen. We waited for a few days, but when no other parents stepped up, of course he did... and he volunteered to coach both teams. 

Fast forward a couple of months later and the season is near ending. Although soccer isn't the sport my husband knows best, he has devoted himself fully to coaching these teams. He has spent countless hours researching and planning for practices, from drills, to plays, to just fun exercises the kids can do. He has sent countless emails to parents, the league, and other coaches wanting to reschedule games. He set up an online snack sign-up webpage. He's planning an end of season party for each team. He drags soccer balls, equipment, and other items to every single game. He has rearranged his personal life and volunteered his free time so that our, and the other kids on the team, could play this season.

But you know what? He doesn't care at all. He has so much fun! 

My husband would never complain about volunteer coaching. He wouldn't complain about the parents that suggest, often under their breath, that the field he has chosen for practice is a little "bumpy" or that it is located too far from their own homes. He wouldn't complain that many parents just drop off their kids for practice, them perceiving practice time as a good time to run errands childfree while my husband provides them with convenient childcare services. He doesn't complain about the times when no parents sign up to bring snacks, so as not to disappoint the team, he scavenges our cupboards and fridge for enough snacks and drinks for the players after the game.

No he doesn't complain at all. In fact, if you asked him, he would definitely tell you how much he enjoys coaching. He would quickly go into a story about how our son, who has to try a little harder in sports than our daughter, actually scored a goal a few weeks ago- something we weren't sure was going to happen this season. He would definitely tell you about a really fun drill he led at practice with my 5-year-old daughter's team recently, when the girls giggled until they cried, as they crab-walked across the field and parents all snapped photos of their daughter's elated faces.

He definitely has superpowers.

He seems to devote himself so much that I'm not even sure the other parents remember that he volunteered when no one else would. I hope they appreciate his sacrifice, patience and effort as much as their children do.

More than anything he or I, or anyone else thinks about the experience, it is the kids that matter most. He is proving to his kids, and the other kids on the team, how important they are to him. He might not be a professional soccer coach, but to our kids, he is a the best dad a kid could ask for. 

And they'd probably tell you he is the best coach too.

The other day my oldest son, who is in second grade, was playing in a game. The coach from the other team was definitely not a parent. He was hard core, serious, and a little scary. He had this deep, booming growl of a voice that made me cringe every time I heard him yell, and let me tell you, he yelled a lot. Usually, his yelling was not encouraging. It was criticism. 

One little boy on the other team who had done great during the game happened to fall down and get hurt. In obvious pain he limped toward the sideline, tears in his eyes. 

His coach pointed at him aggressively and huskily yelled, "Get back out there. Boys don't cry!" 

The boy looked at him, seemingly defeated, and hobbled back into the game. He limped off and on the rest of the time he was in, and didn't come out until his coach finally put in a sub for him several minutes later.

I felt pretty bad for that kid. Is that what he thinks coaches are like? Is that what his parents want him experiencing at 7 years old, on a recreational soccer team? Did that coach really just tell that kid that crying isn't okay- because, among other reasons- that he is a boy? It both infuriated and saddened me to watch that experience.

It is in those moments that I am reminded of why I shouldn't be so selfish.

Maybe my husband coaching isn't such a bad thing. In fact, it's most definitely a good thing.

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