Courage, Size 6: Lessons From the Sidelines

It’s your first day at your new job.  Monday Morning, 8am.  You’re the “new guy/gal” on the team of ten.  The other 9 are huddled in the conference room yucking it up about the party they all attended this past weekend.  Not only are they all co-workers, they’ve been friends for the past few years.  Not only are they friends and co-workers, this is the best team in the company.  They have awards named after them.  Each one of them knows what the other person is going to do before they even do it.  It’s a very tight, successful, and FRIENDLY team, and you’re the newbie.  We’ve all been there, right?  High anxiety, very stressful, extremely uncomfortable, with the thought “What am I doing here?” running through your mind over and over.

Now, Imagine, it’s not you, but your 6-year old child.

Every parent reading this post would like to jump back to the first paragraph and say “I’m fine being here, as long as it’s not my little guy/girl. Bring on this dream team.”

I met a kiddo that taught me a lesson about “courage”.  Gabe had never played soccer prior to August 1st, 2012.  His Mom wanted Gabe to get involved in some outside activities, so she signed him up for 1st Grade Soccer at a local school.  Most of the kids went to school together, the core of which were entering their 5th season of playing on the same squad.  They all know each other.  They all like each other.  They all are good kids.  Oh, and by the way, it’s a very good team.  No need to emphasize their “record” but they have a few trophies already.  Tough situation to enter when you’re the new “kid.”  Tough situation when you’re the parent of the new kid.

Credit Gabe’s Mom for escorting him to every practice, every game, including a couple of school night tournament games in the next county (Not an ideal situation, as the Coach, I’ll take the blame for that week’s schedule).  Credit Gabe for a positive attitude, willingness to learn and ability to make friends.  Credit the group of first graders for welcoming Gabe and making him feel like a part of the team before a game had been played.

And, that’s another “teaching” point that kids teach us adults.

First practice, August 10th.  9000 degrees on the field.  Gabe is introduced to the team.  They all come up to him, give him a High 5 and they’re off like he’s been there for years.  After the practice, a couple of the players came up to me and said “Coach Jeff, Gabe is cool.  Glad he’s here.”  And that was that…  Gabe was no longer the new kid.  He was now Gabe, one of the ten players that made up the team.

This is not a story about a dramatic, life altering event or tragedy.  This is not a story that’ll make your local news or the Huffington Post (or maybe it could).  This is a story about a Mom who wanted something for her son, to make some new friends, and have some fun.  This is a story about a group of kids welcoming a new friend to their team.  This is a story that about courage, courage of a Mom for putting her little guy in a new situation.  This is a story about a little guy having the courage to go to that first practice, and the second, and third and so on.  This is a story about a group of 6-year olds teaching all of us something about being kind and accepting.  This is a story about everyday courage.  And, that’s something I could use … and maybe you too.

Sincerely,

Coach Jeff