Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Practical Laboratory for all aspects of life

I am coaching the Westminster Eagles junior high boys soccer team again this year, I thoroughly enjoy it. Last year, our first season ever, we played in the "intro" division and went undefeated in 6 games (two ties, but hey, we were still undefeated). This year, we got moved to the "A" division with older and more experienced teams. Our team is made up of 6th-8th graders whereas most of the other teams have only 7th and 8th graders. We're definitely the underdogs in this league.

Since day one of training camp I have been working our boys hard. I know we won't outskill most of the other teams, so we have to be in better shape. What we lack in experience and skill must be made up for with hustle and heart.

What a great group these kids are! I've never had a group willing to work this hard with no real complaints. They seem to understand the uphill battle we have, yet are willing to lay it all out on the field.

We had our first official game last Friday and won. Then, yesterday, we played a very good team and lost 2-1. I won't kid you, it was hard to swallow. We were up 1-0 with 6 minutes left. They scored 2 goals in those last minutes to win. Really, a short mental lapse is all it took to lose. Much credit goes to our opponent for capitalizing.

After the game I saw a look of disappointment in the eyes of my players. Better than that, there was some fire there. Just what they need to go to the next level. A little more fire in the belly is what the competitive spirit requires. They got a taste of losing and it don't taste so good. The players need to channel any negative emotions they have from losing in to playing sounder and smarter.

All this to say, sports provide a great practical laboratory for all aspects of life. One of the parents sent me a great quote related to this:

“Sports provide the only practical laboratory for all aspects of education in life. And since sports are so dynamic and challenging, they reveal the individual participant in his true light.” - John Brown, Basketball Hall of Fame coach

I'm not sure I'd say that sports are the only practical laboratory, but they sure are one of the best. Being part of a team and competing against other teams incorporates so many valuable lessons, especially for young disciples of Christ. You must learn submission to authority, discipline, preparation, mental toughness, selflessness, sacrifice, self-control, skills, teamwork, etc. You will face disappointments, challenges, and a whole host of emotions you'd never know any other way. Through all of this, as a coach, I can remind the young brothers how we are first and foremost Christ's representatives at all times. Such a realization-for me as coach also-is a wonderful aid in our spiritual formation and maturity. I found myself being challenged to grow even yesterday, after the ref missed two sure penalty's in the box committed against us. Seems like the Lord isn't close to being finished with me, such situations really cause me to practice self-control, etc. Praise God for opportunities to grow-sports give many of these.
We have 5 more regular season games, I'm hoping we can steal some wins, no doubt, but the end goal is much higher- it's for each boy to come to see how all aspects of their life and activity fall under the Lordship of Christ. Working hard at something like a team sport is a great way for them to honor Christ and grow in effectiveness for Him.


Frontier Forest said...

Dynamic leaders call their team to believe “NO LETDOWNS!” Great and mighty things lie ahead for all who push for such discipline in their lives.

GUNNY said...

Well, that's almost as cool as me ...

I'm coaching the Purple Pixies, a soccer team of 6 year old girls.

It's a bit of an interesting change from the world in which I normally live, but a good time thus far.

Incidentally, who do you like in the Women's World Cup?

Deutschland uber alles!

AJF said...

Wow, the "Purple Pixies"...there has to be some kind of crown for you in heaven for that.

A week ago I would have said the U.S. women, hands down...but after that North Korean scare, I'm a bit concerned. The Chinese ladies are pretty solid.

Rick Calohan said...

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, since I am a father to be, I am wondering do any of the kids today play baseball. When I was growing up, (and remind you I am only 40 years old) the kids on our block played baseball and we had Cub Scout baseball, 3 & 2 Baseball, Ban Johnson League, and even high school baseball. I have nothing against soccer, and it seems to me that the predominant sport in Johnson County for the yoots is soccer. The soccer field has replaced many a baseball diamond. Please tell me our children of today have some knowledge of and desire for baseball, which is after all our national pastime.

As for winning or loosing, no one likes to lose but it does build character. Unfortunately, too many kids are lead to believe that winning is everything or worse they are lead to believe why keep score at all. As we, adults know, in life there are many peaks and valleys, but you trudge on to make not only your life but also those around you better.

Anyone I know who has been to the Philippines and seen kids play basketball with no shoes on their feet trying to put the ball into a moving goal attached to a cocoanut tree. On the other hand, they could go to Korea and seen little kids running up mountain paths for their Tai Kwan Do instruction, puts some of the kids not only of Johnson County but also in America in perspective.

Growing up on the Northeast side of Kansas City, when it was still a working class neighborhood, also gives you perspective that perhaps many a suburbanite kid will never understand. Let us just say if you saw the movie Meatballs when the Camp North Star competes against the rich kids of Camp Mohawk then you get the gist.

This is not to invoke class warfare or envy, or to judge all the people of Johnson County, but can anyone explain to me why they need to drive a Hummer or a high end SUV on any residential street in the Kansas City Metro area while, sporting my child is an honor student at any given secular public school.

Finally, to me it sounds like the Westminster Eagles will not only learn life’s lessons on the soccer field, but also in the classroom, and most importantly in their walk with the Lord under a Coach who could perhaps teach many a professional athlete a thing or two about their personal behavior on and off the field. Go Eagles!