My kid learned SO much from you, just probably not what you thought.
I know you fancy yourself a role model. Someone the young boys you instruct can look up to. Someone they can aspire to be.
I never expected you to be that.
I simply expected you to teach my 8-year-old to dribble and pass, defend and attack. I also expected you to teach him to be a good sport, to play fair and to respect the game and its players.
You lived up to all my expectations, but just not in the way you think.
Here are some valuable life lessons you've (totally inadvertently, of course) taught my son — and me:
1. Play with heart.
When you took the strongest, most-experienced players and formed another team and then pitted them in a scrimmage against their less-experienced teammates (which you then marked as a 'W' for your chosen squad), my son learned how to fight and not give up — and to play for the love of the game even in the face of sure defeat.
2. Life is unfair.
I asked my son, is it fair that Coach did that? He answered easily, no. He also learned that when faced with life's unfairness, you can either suck it up and deal or move on. I learned that I have to listen to my child's wishes sometimes and let him make his own choices and face with the consequences — even if that means he might get hurt.
3. Coaches aren't gods.
My son DID look up to you. I'm sure he even respected you. But when you started playing favorites, you lost that. YOU taught my child that grown men can and do treat innocent children badly. This is a lesson that tore my heart apart, but one I now know was necessary for my son to grow up to be a loving, caring man. (I also know my kid is more than likely to encounter many more coaches just like you if he continues to participate in sports. So, thumbs up for the heads up!)
4. And some men are sexist.
When you announced to the team that "moms make you weak" and instructed the boys to be "sweet" when scrimmaging a girls team, you opened up the door for me to discuss sexism and feminism with my son. When you dismissed an assistant coach for reprimanding boys who were making fun of the girls team, you opened my eyes to how grownups sit by and do nothing to keep sweet little boys from growing up to be teenagers, college students, adult men who disrespect women.
5. What teamwork ISN'T.
You don't pit teammates against each other in a scrimmage and let the "good" team clobber the newbies just to get a win. You don't geek it up and run down-field with arms raised and screaming in celebration when you score on your own team and a goalie who just started playing soccer a month ago. And you don't give perks to your "special" players.
6. To fight back (in his own way).
I fought back with words. My son fought back my staying on the team, playing his hardest and making you wish you'd never relegated him to the B team. (Pretty clever tactic for a third-grader.)
My son won't be back on your team next season or any season. We may face your team again on the field, and we may lose. That's OK. I have no hard feelings. I'm thankful to you for teaching my son how to pass and dribble and how to be a better man (at age 8) than you will ever be.