For the last few months, David and I have both been completely out of our element: We have been coaching sports. Okay, so coaching’s not out of our element… we’ve been coaching for years and we love it. But the strange part of our life right now is what we’ve been coaching.
David’s been coaching track, and I’ve been coaching football and soccer.
Now, David’s an athletic guy, but he never ran track. Ever. He knew nothing about track when the season started. In fact, there were times when he’d leave for practice and I’d go on to the computer and find YouTube videos open about starting blocks, sprinting form, and other track-y stuff.
But the school needed a track coach, so he’s doing it.
While he’s been at the school every day imparting his YouTube wisdom to the youth of the community, I’ve been down at the rec league soccer and football fields, imparting wisdom to the children of the community. Now, I haven’t utilized YouTube, but my PE for Elementary Students textbook from college has come in handy. Very, very handy.
Soccer with the little ones hasn’t been too difficult. I know enough of the basics to handle the 5, 6, and 7 year olds. Yesterday we had a helicopter fly overhead during practice, so that brought us a whole new series of challenges, but we made it.
But moving up just one level, to the 8 and 9 year olds? Oh. Boy.
Yesterday before practice my assistant coach told me his ideas for working with the goalies, complete with several specific and technical descriptions… I just smiled and said, “Great!” and sent him off with my two best goalies.
(Yes, he should be the head coach. I know that, he knows that, and anyone who is around my team for more than 3 seconds knows that. But he runs a restaurant in town and couldn’t commit to being a head coach. So there’s that.)
Anyway, while he went with the goalies and did the soccery stuff, I worked with the rest of the kids. We dribbled, we passed, we ran. Then I told one of my defenders (see, I’m not totally clueless) that she should pass the ball up to her teammate who will then try and score.
The little girl nodded in earnest and said, “Okay, Coach! I will! I’ll make sure he’s not offsides though.”
I just looked at her and nodded, “Okay, (little 8 year old girl), good call.”
Later, in the privacy of my own home, I said to David, “Um, so what does it mean to be offsides in soccer?”
Yeah. I’m that coach.
And football? Thankfully I have a very wise and capable assistant there, too. He and his freshman in high school self has answered many a question, made many helpful suggestions, and graciously hid his laughter.
I mean, I know football. I know the rules, I know the plays and positions, and I do know what offsides means in football… but knowing the sport and knowing how to coach the sport are two totally different things.
Plus – flag football and tackle football are two totally different things.
But the rec league desperately needed coaches, so I’m doing it.
But last night something pretty great happened – David started coaching baseball, and I started coaching cheer.
I left soccer practice and walked up to the high school gym, heading for cheer. David passed me on the way, leaving track and heading for the baseball fields. We high fived as we passed, and we each knew that the other was going, well, home.
I walked into the gym and within 30 seconds I knew where I was. Stunt pods, cinnamon rolls, 5-6-7-8, bows, and toe touches – that’s my language. That I know. I was comfortable, I was happy, I was home.
After practice I walked back to the fields for the end of baseball, and yes, that is home for David and the kidlets, and home for me too. (So I have two homes… work with me here.) Watching the pitching coach, listening to the base running coach, seeing the kids working on their swings, calling for pop flies, and charging the ball and tossing it to first – again, the language of home.
When we got back to the house after our marathon day, David and I couldn’t stop smiling. He with a baseball in his hand, me with the cheer catalogues, finally where we wanted to be.
But you know what? Today there is no baseball, and today there is only a little bit of cheer. But today there is track, and today there is football, and we need to give all that we can give while we are there. The kids deserve our best. And while the sports are different, the underlying lessons we want to instill – sportsmanship, commitment, striving for excellence – are all the same. And that is the reason we got into coaching in the first place.
While we were talking about all of this, I was reminded of the verse that talks about the fact that this world is not our true home.
“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” Hebrews 13:14
So while we are here, we are out of our element. Sure, we will have glimpses of Home – when we worship, spend time with the Lord, and spend time in fellowship with other believers – but we are not Home yet.
We have work to do here still. We have to go into the world and teach others about the saving grace of Jesus. We have to shine the light into the darkness.
We have to be uncomfortable at times, awkward at times, and yes, even be laughed at at times – but that’s okay. That’s why we are here.
There’s a need, and so we must do it.
And eventually we’ll be Home. We’ll be comfortable. We’ll be at rest.
But until then, let’s give our best. Let’s go where we’re needed, shine the light, and bring others the Hope of one day finally going Home.
See you soon!