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Why Only Dads Are Asked to Coach Soccer

Photograph by Twenty20

Every year, my kids ask, but it's usually too tough. We can never make it work. It seems simple enough, but it's actually a big commitment—eight Sunday afternoons, coaching soccer. My kids love to play, but this year, just playing wasn't enough.

They wanted their dad to coach.

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My husband loves doing things with our kids, but as a doctor who takes call every third night and every third weekend, some things just aren't possible. He never felt comfortable making the commitment to coach—when he says he's going to do something, he does it.

But this year, the league sent out a message saying that they didn't have enough parent coaches. If they didn't have enough coaches, the kids wouldn't be able to play.

"You know what this means?" I asked my husband.

"I have to do it?" he asked. I nodded my head. "But what happens if I get called to the hospital?" he asked. I told him we'd figure something out.

My 4-year-old son was so excited and proud to have his dad coaching, and I was thrilled to see my kid so happy about an activity. But, inevitably, it happened. There was a game my husband couldn't attend. What's more: since they didn't have enough coaches to start, there was no assistant coach.

When my friends saw me out there, they joked about how the coach should probably know how to play soccer.

No one to fall back on. No one to help out.

So, I did what any other mom would do. I laced up my sneakers. (I also put on totally cute yoga pants, but whatever.)

When I stepped out onto the field, I was the only mom out there. Every other team had a dad at the helm. I wore my husband's coach shirt with pride (it totally worked with the super-cute yoga pants). I introduced myself to all of the other parents and the kids, and we got out on the field.

When my friends saw me out there, they joked about how the coach should probably know how to play soccer. (I totally do. Kind of.) But leading a bunch of 4-year-olds? How much did I really need to know?

Did I do every drill perfectly? Probably not. Did I send the red team to the black team's goal more often than I'd like to admit? Yes.

First order of business: Getting all of the kids off their mothers' legs and onto the field. One child in particular didn't want to go. He cried and told me he wanted to be with his mommy. I looked at the sidelines and noticed that his mother was holding a newborn. I told him, "I may not be your mommy, but I am a mommy, so how about we have some fun?" He liked my logic. The tears dried up, and he jumped in.

Did I do every drill perfectly? Probably not. Did I send the red team to the black team's goal more often than I'd like to admit? Yes. But did I make sure every kid had a blast while they were out there? Well, yes. Yes, I did.

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And you know what? I had fun, too. Not just with my kid. I enjoyed being with all of the other kids, too. It was great to run around, to be part of a team, to enjoy playing in the fresh air.

At the end of the game, one of the moms asked why only dads were asked to coach soccer. I couldn't think of one reason.

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