Friday, November 28, 2008

Tip your Soccer Coach

Soccer clubs have had their last games, although as anyone who's a soccer mom, parent, fan knows, soccer season is never over. In fact one of the biggest youth tournaments in the country is Thanksgiving weekend right here in sunny (and rainy) San Diego. My husband is only taking a few hours from our family vacation to see one of his players in a game down here.

High school soccer is starting, and winter, yes, even California "winter" brings futsal to some teams, including Brian's. (As a side note, I find it totally ironic that they are practicing in a Morman church gym, because the 1st choice of the Catholic church gym would not allow non-Catholics to use their gym.) He's coached this team for 4 seasons, offering futsal each winter for the non-high school players (the rule is you cannot practice with your club during the HS season) and three days of practice a week, including a special agility session. He's brought this team from last to first place in four seasons, and that's with kicking off the best player after said player continually criticized his teammates, that's a no-no no matter how many goals you score. So what do you think this team gave him at the required end of season pizza parties?

First, let you give you some barely relevant information. Brian coached Keegan's first team this year. It did not go well. The kids fought over who got to kick the ball in, pushed each other to be first in the "shaking hands with the other team" and generally never really gelled until Brian used the tried and true "us against the coach" bonding game of tug-o-war. At one point Brian told them he is never coaching the team again. He got two letters this addressed to him(a negative one which is hilarious and I can't find or I'd publish it) and the other addressed to the league:

No one wanted to share, everyone wanted to keep the ball.There was quite a bit of trampling, elbowing and pushing involved- and the kids weren't behaving either. : ) Seriously though, Brian was put to task to get a cohesive team together and he worked and tried every trick in the book. He never gave up .He began using cooperative games before and after practice to motivate the team to work together and encouraged parents to instill the ideals of teamwork at home too. He had to deal with a lot of squabbling and sass that would have gotten multiple time-outs and a spanking at my house yet he never lost it in front of the kids and would often single out the worst troublemakers to have concentrated coaching time with them and I saw a lot of improvement in the team. Brian is a rare find and The League is fortunate to have him.

They also gave him about $120 in gift certificates for the one season. The elementary school parents where he facilitates pick-up soccer twice a week for K-2 also got him a pretty sizable gift certificate. But his club team, for whom he spends an hour preparing each practice, watches Brazilian videos on the latest in training techniques and feels responsible not just for developing the boys' love and skill for soccer, could not even manage a card. And this is for four seasons (2 years) straight. I missed this last party, but after the last few I attended I was seriously considering not buying our own pizza, but eating the numerous leftovers if they weren't gonna even shell out for our lunch. I know I'm being a bit selfish, and they are paying him to coach, but you pay for camps, taxi rides and haircuts too, and I'm pretty sure these parents tip for those services.

So please, next season, think about all your coach does compared to his pay. A card is nice, a Starbucks card is even nicer for those 8am games.


  1. Feeling guilty for never getting a soccer coach a single "tip." Very guilty.

  2. I wonder if it's b/c of the ages... Keegan & the elementary school kids parents are organizing the cards and gift cards. But by high school, the parents probably aren't thinking about it as much.

    Or, m/b it's because by HS, there are SO MANY teachers/coaches/etc., that parents don't feel like they can give them all anything & don't do anything.

    Or, if the team consists of HS-aged boys, they probably wouldn't think of getting anything.

    My daughter's in preschool, and I am so thankful that our class coordinator organizes all of the holiday/b-day/end-of-year giving for the teacher!

    And, really, you tip at camp, too? (My oldest is only 3, so I haven't experienced camp yet.)

  3. Sun you actually are quite right. My husband finally asked if this was unusual or not, and seems the older teams stop giving these things. He's got a second, younger team now, whew :)

    Although funnily enought, when he coached at a high school the team bought him a bottle of wine, which was a bit odd. They won the championship, perhaps that's why.

    My kids haven't been to camp, but I remember as a day camp counselor the director would pool all the tips and divy them out.