One of my personal goals for my year in Challenge Detroit was to find an organization within the city where I can volunteer on a regular a basis in a meaningful and fulfilling way. I did just that by becoming a Detroit P.A.L soccer coach for U6 (four to six year olds). I got to do it with two of my best friends and fellow fellows, Kyla Carlsen and Kayleigh Roy, and I had the honor of coaching 15 unique and special children along the way. Here are some lessons I learned from spring ball, as I go through soccer withdrawal and prepare for the new little batch of kiddos in the fall.
Five things I learned as a U6 Soccer Coach:
- I don’t know much about soccer (well I knew that before), but neither do the kids. So everything you say is like cotton candy gold. They believe it and trust it, but just like cotton candy, it melts away in their hyper active, little brains almost instantly.
- Kids are a trip. Well, they are usually tripping, whether that’s in the literal sense or in the slang term connotation. Kids are bumbling messes of joy, emotion, enthusiasm, and usually some sort of snot.They’re great and they’re overwhelming, and it’s a wonderful ride.
- There are different types of four year olds. There are four year olds who love soccer and kicking balls and running in straight lines. Then there are four years olds who love making up “spider man kicks,” and whole back stories, filled with detailed mechanics, for their “electric shoes” that help them run so fast. Yet, they all laugh at the word “butt.”
- Trying to capture and maintain the attention of 12 four to six year olds for an hour twice a week can be exhausting. Half the job is making sure they don’t hit each other, and the other half is making sure they don’t run away. Very little of the job actually involves teaching soccer. I’m surprisingly OK with this delegation of responsibilities.
- There is few things more rewarding than watching young kids be proud of themselves. Whether it’s for scoring a goal, kicking a ball really hard, or helping a teammate up when they’ve fallen, seeing that smile of accomplishment makes the hectic mess that came before it well worth it.
- I know I said FIVE things I learned, but this is more of a gleaned mantra going forward: Do all things in life with the same enthusiasm a five year old has for snack time.