Ah, late summertime, when a young man’s fancy turns to….wait for it……Soccer! I’m aware this is a wedding music website, but I happen to be Steve Millikan, the producer and arranger for the Wedding Music Project, so I’m taking this opportunity to say I love kids, and I love coaching soccer!
Why the love of coaching soccer, rather than some other sport? Read on..
Growing up, I loved sports, but was generally too small to play on school teams. (It didn’t help that I skipped second grade and so was a year younger than my classmates). I loved basketball, and used to ride my bike down to the local elementary quite often to play pickup games or just shoot around. But at the Saturday games our elementary played against other schools, I almost never got to play.
Can I say I dislike it when a coach of a 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade team doesn’t play kids because they aren’t as good as some others. Really makes me unhappy. Happened to me, happened to my kids. End of rant.
So why do I love coaching soccer? For one thing, kids that are not athletically ‘gifted’ can contribute and usually play pretty effectively. Let’s face it – if you’re half the size of the other kids, or not quick on your feet, football and basketball can be a serious challenge. If your hand/eye coordination is not very good, baseball probably won’t work out so well.
But soccer, at the competitive level I’m coaching (high school, but not playing the better high school teams) is a game that allows a thinking player to greatly compensate for unspectacular physical skills. One reason I know this – most of my players can outrun me – but I can compete quite nicely, thank you very much, because I’m incredibly smart. Wait, what? No, that’s not it...I just understand a few simple things about soccer and angles and so forth, and I’m always thinking about how to gain an adavantage, control more of the field, put more pressure on the opposing defense, etc.
But about soccer – we see soccer practice as a time not only to exercise, but have a lot of fun, improve our skills, and particpate in scrimmages. Our team has 23 or 24 players this year, so when we scrimmage during the 2nd half of our practices, everyone plays, and sometimes a couple coaches or alumni bring the total up to 22 (or a lesser even number).
Every kid gets to participate fully at practices - doing the drills, running the laps, scrimmaging with the team. And we have a lot of fun. I’m not the drill sargeant type, so I allow a bit of ‘horseplay’ now and then.
Now, we do play to win, and my team and the parents understand this. But I do have a strict policy: if we’re winning or losing big in the second half, everyone gets in the game, usually for substantial playing time. That will be a serious challenge this year – I’ll have to think about how to manage 23+ players, tracking their playing time.
Back to the enjoying kids part – Mary and I have four 20-somethings of our own, and our house often resembled Grand Central Station when they were growing up. Our house was often the default hang-out for kids, and we both enjoyed that part of raising our children. And for years we’ve been deeply involved with Last Bell Ministries, helping older orphan kids (15-19) who have aged out of their orphanages and face an uncertain and bleak future. Our son Luke came from one of these Ukrainian orphanages, and as of this writing, Mary and I will be traveling to Zhytomyr, Ukraine in less than a week to be with our daughter, who lives & works there, and with 40-50 ‘graduate’ orphans.
Okay, if you’re keeping score, here is the KASH roster for 2010:
- Luke Camery
- Samuel Chance
- Dillon Cook
- Adam Dinkledine
- Zach Droll
- Ben Fike
- Ethan Kimm
- Benjamin Loisch
- Joshua Mainzer
- Matthew Meck
- David Monticue
- Nathaniel Monticue
- T J Pemberton
- Gavin Rentschler
- Graham Rentschler
- Ben “Tyrone” Sanders
- Jo Smith
- Bo Stephan
- Ben Visser
- Spencer York
- Noah Belt
- Braden Phillips
- Geo Ely
- Nathan Marcisz
My co-coaches are Kevin Meck and Michael Fike, with help from Jonathan Sanders and Caleb Sanders. Their help and leadership is especially important this year as I travel to Ukraine, missing quite a few practices and a couple games.
Enjoy soccer, whether you watch, play, or coach!