Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taking the time to look up

I'm coaching soccer for Sam's age group this year. It is a fun time where the kids can be set free to be as creative as possible while limited coaching occurs (basically tell them to go in the right direction and get the ball). Sam is an interesting player. To date in 3 games he has two goals, but this last game he did things that most 12 year old players don't do.

The concept is called looking up. In the game Sam would get the ball and stop to look around and see where the other kids were and which way he needed to go. He is the only player on the team to do this. His goal this week came after he dribbled the ball down the field and stopped to look where the goalie was and shoot the ball where the goalie wasn't. Of course having played soccer for so many years I am well familiar with looking up and finding the right course. It's a concept all of us should take note of.

What if we took a moment in our day to look up? What if when we looked up we were able to see what direction we should go. I know in my personal life I do NOT look up enough. I don't take the time to ensure that the course I'm on is correct. This is a critical time for all of us and I believe that we need to look up more and take notice of what is happening around us. It is also critical for us to chart a course that will lead us to safety and happiness.

I'm glad that Sam looked up in his soccer game this last week as it has inspired me to do so in my life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Fall Season

It's fall (everywhere but Phoenix anyways) and for me that means one thing. . . Soccer! For most people in the USA it's time for American Football, but for me it's the World's football game that excites me. Ever since I was seven the smells of fall meant that it was time to get the cleats and shin guards out and try to outdo opponents on the pitch. I played throughout my youth and got my High School Letter (one of three by the way) in Soccer. In fact my fondest High School memory came my Junior year when I scored against the team we hated most.

At this stage in my life Soccer consists of following MLS, the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. Also I get to coach my children in Soccer. This year it is my 4 year olds first year. I have 9 four and five year old boys and no girls which means we can be dominant (even though it is a recreational and not a competitive league). It's great to take the time to get these boys excited about a game I love. So far I've been able to teach them to chase the ball, turn the ball towards the right goal, score (we have 12 goals in two games) and throw-ins.

My favorite part of these practices is when I play "keep away". Basically I challenge the kids to get the ball away from me while I dribble around them. It's fun to see them smile and try to gang up on me. Of course I don't keep the ball all the time. I do let them get involved to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be it.

The game itself is rather simple in it's concept - move the ball downfield with your feet and kick it in the goal. However, there is a lot to be learned from it. The concepts of sharing are inherent in the game. If you don't learn to pass the ball you will never succeed. Another aspect is keeping your head up. This allows you to see what is happening and make good choices when you have the ball. This teaches players to slow down in life, evaluate the situation and make informed decisions (something our leaders could learn to do).

Now of course all sports have some applicability in life, but for me Soccer is the perfect game (sorry Jeff). It teaches you to share, to lead, to take care of one another. There are many lessons that can be learned (especially when and when not to tackle the ball). Soccer has provided me with many joys as well as many sorrows and I have to admit that I am a better person for it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

For Whom the Foul Pole Tolls

The last run of yesterday's DBacks - Reds game came on a home run that hit the right field foul pole. The resulting sound was heard not only by the crowd at Chase Field but also by those watching on TV. It was a sound that probably signifies the end of the DBacks chances to make the playoffs.

This one run was not the ultimate cause of this feeling. For weeks now it seems that the DBacks have been snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Yesterday was a microcosm of the season. Here's why:

  1. The starting pitching for the DBacks was on giving up only one run and striking out 9
  2. The hitting could not get the big hit when it was needed. 17 runners left on base with the only run coming on a Justin Upton home run
  3. The bullpen giving up big runs when it could ill afford to do so

As a Diamondbacks fan I have had the hope that they would somehow get out of the funk that started in May and be able to return to the form they had in April. After this series with the Reds it appears that the DBacks of April will not be coming back and that we will have to ride out the season and begin hope again next year. The DBacks are currently 4 1/2 games behind the Dodgers and the way the Dodgers are playing I don't see anything short of a miracle helping the DBacks to win the NL West.

For whom does the foul pole toll? It tolls for thee Arizona Diamondbacks, it tolls for thee.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Of Tadpoles and Children

So about a week ago it rained enough to have a small pool of water in the play area near our house. The kids found that there were tadpoles in this pool and of course had to catch some. This began a process of feeding and caring for said tadpoles until they become toads. Yesterday was the first time that the little toads made an actual appearance and that got me to thinking about how the process of moving from tadpoles to toads reflects the way that children grow into adults.

The toad begins as a tadpole. Really it looks like a miniature lollipop, basically a circle and a stick. From there it grows and features become more distinctive. The eyes and mouth become more pronounced and then legs begin to sprout. After the legs come the arms and the head matures until finally a little toad has developed. All that was needed was a good environment so that the toad had enough nutrition and support to emerge.

Children are the same way. They begin as tiny, fragile babies with really no hint as to the mature shape they will take. They begin to grow and soon learn to sit up, crawl, walk and talk. If children are given a good environment they will also thrive and feed not only on good food but also on the teaching that occurs in the home. Herein lies a big difference between growing toads and raising children. There is no teaching that can be given to the toads that I'm aware of. Children on the other hand learn a great deal from their parents which will mold them into the persons they become.

Eventually our toads will be big enough that we will have to set them free on the world. There is no training we can give them other than to let them go their merry way. Children also grow big enough and have to be set free at some point in time. I'm not even close to that day coming and believe me there are lots of things left to teach them so they will be ready. I know it will be a difficult day when setting the children free, I just hope to have them prepared well enough in order to live prosperously in this world.