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My kids couldn't be more different. My neighbor calls them the left brain and right brain, and he is absolutely right. 

When my older son was little, I couldn't wait for him to play sports. I grew up swimming, playing soccer, softball, and joined every team that would have me. Surely my little apple wouldn't have fallen too far from the tree, right? Ah, no. 

In kindergarten, a bunch of parents from school decided to form a Y soccer team. Woo hoo! My little soccer star was gonna be born, even though he had never ever expressed any kind of interest in any sport. Here was the opportunity to expose him to one of my favorite sports; certainly, he'd grow to love how much fun running around a field chasing a ball could be. So, I signed him up.

Best laid plans. Best laid plans.

I dragged him kicking and screaming to every practice. Then sat on the side lines watching in horror as he stared at the sky, picked dandelions, and did anything but play soccer. When game days came, he didn't even know who was winning and could care less whether he played. This clearly was not what I expected.

Fast forward a year later, when he told me they were putting the team back together again, and he wanted to play.  Huh? Really? So I told him to think about it, and we'd wait to sign up. Every few days I'd ask ask him, "Do you still want to play soccer? Are you sure?" And he'd insist that he did. Finally on the last day to sign up, I asked one last time. The answer was still affirmative, so I reluctantly signed the check and mailed it in. 

It was worse than the year before. Every Thursday he'd come home from school, I'd tell him to get on his gear and then the melt downs would begin. "I hate soccer! It's stupid! You can't make me go!" It was exhausting. I insisted on going, because he had insisted on playing. We'd get to practice, he'd half-heartedly participate, and all would seem fine until the next week.

Halfway through the season, in yet another very trying parent moment, I told him, "Fine. Quit. But, you need to march up to practice and personally tell your coach you are quitting and then let your teammates know as well.  You were the one who wanted to play this year, and you will play or be personally responsible for quitting." He quickly shut-up, got on his gear, and for the rest of the season never complained again. But, he never played soccer again either. 

Having an experience like that made me gun-shy for round two with the younger one. And though he's totally different from his brother, I just didn't want the stress, fighting, and disappointment, so I avoided the subject of soccer all together.

Then came first grade, and he wanted to play. I knew he'd played soccer on the playground at school quite a bit, so I signed him up and prayed things would be different this time. 

Night and day. He wanted to practice every day leading up to the start of the season. He wanted me to teach him my tricks. He carried around the ball like it was his best friend. Who on earth was this child?

At the first practice, the coach asked the parents who might be interested in helping. I looked at Luke, who nodded back. "I'll do it," I told the coach, and like that, I was assistant soccer coach.

I think I looked forward to the practices even more than Luke. It was so much fun! Everything—working with the kids, running drills, being in the grass with a ball under my feet, seeing the kids improve week to week, and best of all, being with my son who was proving to be quite the soccer player—was satisfying. I could get used to this. 

But alas, soccer season only lasts about 9 weeks. I wasn't ready to commit my family's time to club soccer, so Y soccer was going to be it for us. And that was just fine with Luke, as long as he got to play both seasons.

The second season came around and our coach from the previous season wasn't playing, so we joined another team. When the email came out looking for an assistant, well, you know who eagerly signed up. 

For three seasons now, I've continued to assistant coach. We've had the bulk of the kids return to our team season over season, which makes it that much more fun. It's amazing to see how much they've grown both physically and in their skills. And, there's nothing like that first day of practice when they get there and give me a huge smile and a hug and say, "Hi, Coach Mollie!" We work well together. I know their strengths and weaknesses, and when I'm planning drills, I take that into consideration. The head coach and I each have our own skill set and approach to soccer, so by combining our talents, we make sure it's fun, challenging and full of teamwork. We take great pride in our boys, and I think it shows in the way they respond to us. They may not win every game, but every game I feel like I'm winning.

At the end of this last season, Coach told me he didn't know if they'd be back in the fall. My heart sank. I wanted these boys together again. But I got it, some things can't last forever. I resolved that we'd join a new team, and I would offer my assistance. We'd be okay.

And then Luke said to me, "Mom, why don't you just be the lead coach?”

You know what kid? I think I will.

That's the kind of soccer mom I want to be.

Mollie Protzman


Mollie is an Omaha native and a mom of two boys ages 13 and 8. She's been married for 20 years and spent most of those first 10 years living in various cities around the country. Before kids, she was in marketing communications and public relations and then stayed home with her boys for 11 years while doing freelance writing on the side. The day after her youngest one went to kindergarten, she just about went berserk with the quiet in the house and nothing constructiv ...

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