Another week of soccer has gone by, and while nothing hugely exciting happened on the pitch, I've been trying to organize the next stage in my coaching education.
I never realized the extraordinary amount of time I would have to dedicate to soccer coaching. Sure, I knew it would take up my afternoons and weekends, but I did not put continuing education on my calendar, something that Loudoun Soccer Club is adamant about. Now, I have NO problem with this whatsoever.. I think it's a very good sign of the passion for the sport in the club, and their desire to be a top club in Virginia. I fully support and appreciate their push for their coaches to take advantage of coaching opportunities, such as the two I have (potentially) coming up on my calendar.
The hard part for me has been organizing my other life, the small portion of my time that I try to dedicate to my personal mental and physical well-being. Let's face it, we all need a day off once in a while, and sometimes it's hard to even find a half-day to relax during this time of year. We're approaching the end of the season, sure, but we're still in high gear, and will be until our last game on Nov. 7 (which happens to be my birthday). It doesn't look like we'll fit in a post season tournament since I need to do a clinic on the same weekend, but I think the girls will benefit more from using that money to rent indoor space this winter to continue improving their skills.
Still, even looking back on the crazy journey that coaching these girls has been, I wouldn't change it. Sure, it's taken away riding, taken away sleeping in on weekends, taking away my weekday evenings, but it's giving me a hell of a lot more than it's taken away, and for that I can't complain in the slightest.
I've learned some lessons, too, and come face to face with some realities of adulthood. I think, most importantly, I've finally learned to say, 'no, I just don't have time'. While sometimes this is frustrating for me, it's also allowed me to step back and evaluate what's important enough to make time for, and what I can let sit on the back burner for a while. Riding, for example, has become something I do when I have the time, and I enjoy it that much more. It doesn't feel like a 'I have to go to the barn' anymore. It feels like fun, and it's nice to know that even if I don't get in the saddle for weeks, I still have the skills to ride whenever I want. They can be a little rusty, but it's easy enough to remember, and someday when I do change my focus back to horses, I know that the transition won't be too difficult.
Coaching has also made me realize that if I'm going to do something, I want to do it well, commit to it 100%, and be the best at it. I've often said that doing so many things as a kid certainly made me well rounded, but I never excelled at anything in particular. I was a good soccer player, a good dancer, a good rider, but I was never GREAT because my energy and dedication were pulled in so many different directions. Now that I can focus on one or two things instead of five or seven, I feel that if I want to be a great soccer coach, I can be, and maybe someday I will be able to be a great rider, too.
And while I've learned this lesson in my adulthood, I wouldn't push that knowledge on any of the girls that I coach. Doing so many things as a kid might not have made me great at anything in particular, but it made me much more enthusiastic and happy to participate in all of those things. Doing all those activities kept me from burning out of any one thing in particular, which is perhaps why, after 17 years, my love for the sport has only grown. Sure, there's been times in my life when I felt like throwing away my soccer cleats, but I think that could be said for everyone. We all reach a breaking point, it's just a matter of how you chose to fix yourself that determines where you will go.
I'm looking forward to the last three games of our season, and also looking forward to expanding my knowledge and growing as a coach. This game has so much to offer, and as long as I can continue to find the time to pursue it, I will pursue it with everything I've got.