When I feel down, the way I have recently, I try to turn my thoughts to the positive things in my life. It’s a very conscious way of avoiding the despair that I know lies all around me. I make a conscious decision to focus on the good things, to think positive thoughts and to avoid negative people and situations. I’ve always been a bit of a cynic at heart so sometimes it takes a few days to shake off the negative vibes.
Since Kev’s birthday I’ve been in a bit of a slump, not a crushing depression or anything, I’ve just been preoccupied and sad. I know this is normal but I fear if I’m down too long I’ll find myself in a hole that might be too difficult to climb out of. Last Friday I spent some time trying to force myself into a positive frame of mind, since then I’ve been pushing back at the sadness and depression as much as I’m able.
As it happens I spent the weekend coaching my daughter’s team in a soccer tournament. It’s a good form of therapy for me. Being at a field, as a coach or a spectator, makes me feel closer to Kev. Sometimes when I’m watching a game I’ll take a look around. I guess I’m looking for a bird sitting up in the lights watching the game or some other such sign. When I’m coaching I’m more focused on the game so it’s a good distraction.
About a month ago I received an e-mail from a friend who was one of the close knit group of Aztec parents it was my pleasure to be a part of. Kevin’s club soccer team was unique in some ways, rather than a group of individuals competing with each other for accolades and attention the Aztec 89-90s were a real team. A group of talented players who flat out loved to play the game and loved each other, they competed as a unit, win or lose. The camaraderie of the players was reflected in the parents. We were a bunch of folks who just loved to watch the boys play.
Steve was getting in touch with me to invite me to place my team in the tournament he was running. Since I’ve been pre-occupied from time to time lately I was grateful he remembered my interest from last year and I accepted.
The results on the scoreboard were a little disappointing, but the girls competed hard, the weather was nothing short of perfect and I had a really great time. We finished 0-2-1 but I saw lots of smiles when we held on for a hard fought tie and a point in our final game.
As I was leaving the field I was reflecting on how I became involved in coaching. Kev was in fourth grade, and he was selected to play on a minor league baseball team managed by his soccer coach. When I took Kev up to the first practice Dave B, who was also one of the Aztec parent group, informed me I was going to be one of his assistant coaches. Since I was Kevin’s step-father I had always felt a little funny about stepping up to coach his teams but Dave really left me no choice. “You can’t complain if you’re not willing to get involved” he said at the time. When I came home and talked with Lisa about it she said I’d waited long enough and it wouldn’t be fair if I went on to coach Drew and Kata but not Kev. Thus my coaching career was born.
I had a blast coaching that team. It was a great group of boys, with good parents. They were at the perfect age where they could actually play baseball pretty well, but the craziness that permeated AAA and Majors hadn’t kicked in yet. It was an awesome year and I was hooked.
I coached baseball another year with Kev, when he was in AAA. I really wanted to avoid Majors as I’d witnessed how really decent human beings became maniacs when their sons and daughters made it to Majors. I believe every person in the Greater Boston Area believes he or she would be a better manager of the Red Sox than whomever actually holds the job at any point in time, so obviously they are one hell of a lot smarter than the idiot putting in five or six nights a week volunteering to coach their kids.
By then I was sort of a helper for Dave with Kev’s soccer team. I had a pass card and was on the sidelines from time to time at games and helped out at practices. At the U14 level I ended up coaching a bunch of games for the Bombers down the stretch due to a strange set of circumstances. I was also coaching Drew in both baseball (which he would give up for lacrosse in 3rd grade) and soccer. I’d later spend 3 years coaching football (the sport I actually played in my youth) and I currently coach Kata’s travel soccer team.
I eventually passed on Dave’s gift to me, pulling my friend Greg into coaching football. He’d eventually become Drew’s lacrosse coach, and he pulled in his friend Wally, and so the gift is passed on again.
When I think about the memories I have from being involved with the kids for the last 12 or 13 years, memories that are so precious to me now, all I can say is Thank you David. Without your encouragement I would have missed out on so much. I can never repay you for that. All I can say is thanks. And years from now when I sit down to remember these wonderful days I’ll never forget the man who tagged me for the fraternity.
And to all you parents watching from the sidelines, remember this, you can’t complain unless you are willing to jump in and get involved.