(Guest post from Alyssa McGarigal, Lead Coach, Soccer Shots Los Angeles)
Back in the beginning of October, I started class taking attendance, and asking the kids, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” I got a few expected DisneyLands, a couple of kids said the beach, and two blew me away… One little boy, about 4 years old said, “To 7-11, and get a slushie.” Another little girl, same age, said, “To a field of flowers, and go picking.”
Too often, as adults, I feel like we forget the little things. I am out there to have fun with the kids, without a doubt.
But I’m often doing upwards of 10 things at once: I am a coach, a referee, a conflict resolver, a friend, a big kid, a nurse, a hug, a deep breath…
I try to be the best part of each and every kid’s day, in whatever way they need me to be. For some it’s the soccer, the games, the exercise, for others it’s the conversation, the high fives, the stickers or the stamps…
Towards the end of October, I experienced one of the hardest days I have ever experienced, and will probably be one of the hardest throughout my future career. We had a tragedy at the Elementary School I am interning at as a School Counselor. I walked out of school that day mentally and emotionally drained. I got in my car, and I drove to the park where I had about 10 minutes before my Soccer Shots class. I set up, I got ready, and I kept telling myself, I can do this.
It wasn’t until the kids got there, we circled up, and we started talking that I felt a little better. We raced across the field for warm up, we hopped around, we made animal noises, little by little, I started to forget the day that I just had.
The exercise and endorphins, the laughter, the silliness, and happiness of this group of kids were heartwarming. All these things were the little things I needed at the end of a really tough day. Soccer Shots was my field of flowers, my slushie, that day.
In my year and a half with Soccer Shots, I have learned so much! I have gained so much respect and understanding for teachers who spend an entire day with our kids. I have learned an incredible amount from each group of kids: their perspective of the world, their culture, the things that are important to them. I have learned how to be a better teacher, coach, mentor, and person.