Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lessons from the locker room

In my other life (the one before I was a Mom)... I was a girls high school soccer coach. One day (maybe soon)... I'm going to go back. And coach once again. I loved it. There is just something about it... the excitement, the competition, the physical exertion, the game, and most of all... the people. The girls, the coaches, the parents, the fans... and even the refs. What am I talking about?? Let's leave the refs out of it. Maybe I'll add, as a dear friend of mine called them, "the water buffalo"... a.k.a the "American football players who at times would trek by our practice field for a slurp of water".

Anyways... the "people" were the very best of the "bestest" part of coaching.

Now, I could tell you stories upon stories... like the time we went into the playoffs in 8th place... and faced the #1 seated team. When we arrived on their field, their coach approached us and I could just see the smirk in his eyes. He was going to "destroy" us, again. Or so he thought. Chump.

We had faced them earlier in the season... and they had in fact destroyed us. But that night was different. That night... I swear... the wind was on our side. The ball bounced favorably for us EVERY time. I'm telling you... they were pegging our goalie with darn good shots. And they hit the crossbar. They bounced just shy of the goal. EVERY time. It was nuts.

Now, it sounds like I'm not giving any credit to our girls. They were amazing. They were rock stars. They were legends. They were unstoppable. They were owning the field. It was their sanctuary that night. But even they couldn't believe what was happening. At the end of the game... one of our girls, in huffing-puffing breaths said... "I'm an atheist... but I think that God was helping us tonight."

We had held this team off the entire game until the last minute... and they scored. Did you catch that? THEY did. The feeling must have taken years of my life. It was a fatal blow. Until, with 14 seconds left... one of our little spitfires landed one in the back of the net. 14 seconds!! TIED GAME.

Over. Time. Have you ever felt in a moment that the excitement and anticipation was enough to send you into cardiac arrest? Me too. And it lasted until I saw Heaven open up... and we scored. It was a corner kick to a "header". (For those of you not familiar with soccer lingo... it's a goal scored by someone hitting the ball with their head). And it is so darn beautiful.

Now I could go on for hours on end about that night. But you know what the best part was? Our head coach was retiring that year.... after ... gee Coach... how many years?? At least 14 I believe. And that night was the biggest upset in our history. As I watched on the television later ... even the Evening News anchors were amazed. 

The girls were playing for their coach that night... all for him. And I think God was playing too. If you knew this man... you would say that God played the wind for him too.

So... I could tell you about such things. Crazy wins. Give you goose-bumps "pep talks". But today, I'm going to tell you about something that happened in the locker room...

That same wonderful head coach was away. And so, the Assistant Coach and I were in charge. There was a game that day. But the sky was overcast. Chance of showers. We started to warm up. And then... lightning. Now, if you know anything about high school sports (or any sports for that matter)... you will know that when there is lightning spotted (or thunder heard)... you need to clear the field until 30 minutes has passed since the last lightning strike.

So, we cleared the fields. It started to downpour. And there was only one "open" locker room. So, both teams filed their way into the locker room. At first, my team sat together, staring blankly at their opponents. No words were exchanged. Slowly, the "male" coaches left the room. And so I was one of the only coaches left in the locker room with all those girls. (Over 40 of them).

One of "my" girls looked at me with somewhat of a twinkle in her eyes. She made her way to the stereo system. And cranked up the music. She put in her favorite song. And at the time, it was MANY of the girl's "favorite song". 

"Party In The U.S.A" by Miley Sirus

Now, all the girls (including myself) were drenched. The floor was wet. Our hair was wet. All uniforms were soaked. The same young woman that turned on the music began to dance. And she had quite the moves. One by one... more of her teammates joined in. The opposing team still looked on in shock. Until, that same young woman who started the music grabbed one of her opponents hands and brought her onto the "dance floor".

And then it happened. The locker room erupted with laughter and shreeks ...soaking wet girls... dancing until they were more out of breath than they would have been playing the game. Now, I'm not gonna lie... some of them (my wonderful little rebels) started to take off their uniform tops and dance in just their sports bras. Maybe, if the Athletic Director found out about this... I'd be canned. But it was ONLY girls! And it was incredible fun.

And the more important thing was that they were dancing together. Opponents. Rivals. Together.

When the sun came out and the lighting had passed... we went back onto the field. And kicked their butts. But while the girls shook hands after the game was over... I noticed  their smiles were more vibrant. And their "good game" congrats were sincere. 

For they had bonded. In the locker room. 


  1. The blog is very good!

  2. Love, love, love this story. What an incredible gift to be a witness to it. You have such an amazing way with words and I'm so blessed to have found your blog....which I read first every day. Have a super week, dear one.

  3. What a great post. I love reading your stories and I hope you get to have those amazing feelings again. Thx

  4. I love, love love this post. It makes me miss coaching and it makes me miss playing. :( This is a great story. Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. such a great post, love this story and the moral!