"Celebrate the moment
As it turns into one more
Another chance at victory
Another chance to score..."
–Rush, One Little Victory
Even after stating last time I didn't know if either of our girls will play soccer again next year, or if I'll coach again, but we're all going to finish out this year strong as a team, tears and all. Winning is great, the competitive side of me knows that all too painfully well. But in the end, it is how you play the game. Not how it plays you.
How true, and maybe I had a little prescience, too.
One the way to our second-to-the-last game, I asked Bryce if she was excited about playing.
"Yes," she said. "I am."
"Great," I said, again without expectation or biased agenda. I knew the girls were getting tired of being pummeled every single game. So was I.
We drove on, and then Bryce said:
"Daddy, I'm going to score a goal today."
I couldn't help but smile. "You think so?"
"Yes, I am."
"Awesome. Let's go have some fun today."
"I think we're all going do well today," she added.
I smiled again. "Okay then. Let's do it."
As we warmed up on the field, the other team's coach said they were down their bigger and older players, but would have enough to play at least 7 on the field. I told her that would work, that I wasn't sure how many I'd have show up, but we could play 7 as well. I did log in the fact that their "bigger and older players" weren't there – which to me that translated into more experience players than ours.
That seemed to follow the skewed trend for most of the teams we had played this year – bigger, older and a little more experience. Not all of them, but most of them. And it wasn't just me and my coaches who noticed, the team parents had noticed as well.
But I've also had to grapple with the bias inherent in losing with an inexperienced team. Plus, being a father of one on the team meant I always had more on the line. I signed up for this for four years, though. I was in it to stretch and grow, as well as trying to impart a growth mindset to our teams.
Then the game started and something was different. The girls played better. They ran harder, went to the ball instead of waiting for it, controlled the ball, passed the ball – and they scored. A lot. After being pummeled all season, we actually won this game. Six goals to the other team's two. And one of those was Bryce's goal. She made it happen. They all made it happen. We subbed players in and out and coached them along the way, but this, this was all them.
And they knew it. They felt it. They lived it. They loved it. They celebrated every moment of it in every moment of it. That's the stuff we want them to encase in their still-growing hearts, the making it happen and making it their own, to access this confidence as needed throughout their lives.
Because they will need it; we all need it. For right now though, we celebrate the moment. Amen.