A few things you should know about me before I tell this story:
1. I love baseball. I played softball growing up, and I loved it. I watch the Twins religiously.
2. I don't know a lot about soccer. I stopped playing it in the 8th grade. I never watch it on TV.
3. I hate using the telephone. My palms get sweaty if I have to call anyone I don't know that well, or even sometimes someone I do know well. I hate making appointments-Dr, hair cuts, whatever-because it means picking up the phone and talking into it.
4. I am not organized, nor am I good at organizing. Anything.
5. I really, really like having free time.
This summer we took the plunge and signed the kids up for some sports. Oliver is playing T-Ball, and Alison will be playing soccer. Oliver's season has started already, and so far he is enjoying himself. Unless it gets too hot, which it did, one night, and you would've thought we were inflicting Chinese water torture on the kid.
During the games I'm more than willing to make sure the kids on the bench are sitting in order and ready when it's there turn to be up, to coach bases when they need me, and bring treats when it's my turn. I really, REALLY enjoy T-Ball and have a hard time sitting down and watching the game. "I really should've signed up to assistant coach", I thought to myself, what with my love of controlling everything I possibly can coupled with my love of baseball. Coaching, however, seemed like way too much work--sending out emails, making sure everyone got their shirts and hats, setting up a treat schedule, setting up the lineup and positions for every game--it all seemed like a hassle.
Alison's season was supposed to start last week, however because of the weather, and a problem finding enough coaches, it will start this week. Yea--a problem finding enough volunteers. Isn't that almost always a problem? After a few emails, each sounding more desperate than the last, I wrote to the coordinator and said I would be willing to help out. HELP OUT. I admitted, in this email, that I didn't know much about soccer and hadn't played since 8th grade. The night I wrote that email the guy called me and said "Hey, thanks for volunteering! You are now the coach of team #6."
Oh, I forgot another thing you should know about me: I can't say no. If you ask me to do something, and your name isn't Alison, Oliver, or Silas, I will probably say yes, even if it's nearly impossible for me to do it. It's not a good thing, at all. I don't do it because I think it makes me look like a good person, I do it because...I don't know, I'm a wuss? I hate confrontation? I'm sure a therapist cold tell me, but that sounds expensive.
So, when Rec Coordinator man said that, instead of saying "Oh, hell no, there is no way I am going to coach a soccer team. You could not pick a sport other than auto racing or golf that I know less about", I said "Um. OK, but I really don't know a lot about soccer." Then Rec Coordinator man assured me that it would be fine. He said lots of words, and through the ringing in my ears I heard him say that one of the moms has coached for him before and would be willing to help, she just couldn't make all of the games. I started to feel a bit better. Then he said "So you'll be in charge of equipment and handing out uniforms. Oh, and calling the parents..." I heard nothing after that because I passed out for a second. When I came to he was talking about emailing me a roster and rules, etc. I numbly hung up the phone and told Si I was now a soccer coach.
After a night thinking about the phone, and how I was going to need to dial the phone, and talk into it, to people I didn't know from Adam, I decided this probably wasn't just going to go away. I printed out all of the stuff he emailed me (roster, ideas for practice, rules for the games
--guess who referees? the coaches!--equipment list) and started screwing up my courage to make the dreaded phone calls.
On Sunday, while I was at work on my break, I took the roster list with me into the break room. With shaking hands I slowly unfolded it. My heart started beating a bit faster. I took a few deep breaths and looked down at the script I had written out in case I got on the phone and completely blanked on what I was going to say. I wrote out a script. I am pathetic. My first call was to soccer playing, assistant coach mom. She was very nice, very willing to help, assured me she'd be at our first game, but said she couldn't make the practice I had decided to schedule. "Fine", I thought, "I can hold a practice, she'll help me with the games, this might not be so bad". I called the next few people and left messages, talked to a very nice dad who seemed genuinely excited to start the season, and then got to the last name on my list.
"Hola", answered a man's voice. "Crap", I thought. I hesitated for a moment but then figured I had no choice other than to launch into my speech and hope he understood. After I got done talking there was a moment of silence. "I'm sorry", said the voice, in heavily accented English, "I speak Spanish". Now, this person did not have an email address listed, so the only way I could communicate with him was through the phone. During the pause that ensued my brain frantically tried thinking of some of the Spanish I learned in high school, or something I may have picked up while helping Ali with her homework. I came up with some fragments. "Futbol", I thought, but I figured he knew what soccer was. I mean, he'd signed his kid up for soccer, and there was no Spanish on that website. "Man, how do you say 'practice' in Spanish? How about times?" When I realized that there was no way I could communicate to him in his native tongue I just did what every good, English speaking person does to someone who doesn't speak it, I said exactly what I had to say, in English, but slowly and over-annunciated.
It worked. He even repeated the times and places back to me so I was sure he knew what I was talking about. I'm really looking forward to meeting him at practice tomorrow so I can hand him his schedule and then ask him to sign up for a night to bring treats. I should probably look up how to say that in Spanish now. I have never regretted taking Spanish 1 and 2 in college even though I'd had two years of it in high school just so I could get the easy A more in my life.
Tonight the assistant coach for Oliver's T-Ball team couldn't make the game so the coach handed me the lineup and positions and asked for help. I had a blast. I loved every minute. Yes, it's frustrating to keep yelling at kids to stop digging in the dirt and pay attention, to have to tell them to throw to first every time the ball is hit to them, to send them to their moms every time they have to go to the bathroom, but it was fun. I realized that I liked being in charge, it was much better than sitting passively on the sidelines. Maybe this soccer thing will work out and I'll love it. Or maybe it will be painfully obvious that I have no clue what I'm doing, the kids will find out I'm a fraud, and I will be the one crying and asking for my mom at the end of the night. I guess only time will tell.