Monday, November 3, 2014

I don't wanna play goalie!

My daughter's soccer team is awesome. They are eleven strong, fast, feisty 9 and 10 year olds.  They are the Meerkats and they are mighty! Many of them have been playing together for close to five years. They are committed and connected. For the most part, the girls are pretty versatile. Their coaches play them all over the field and they usually go with it, except for goalie.

There are only two girls on the team brave enough to volunteer for goalie every time. Usually, each of these two heroines plays goalie one half of every game. A few weeks ago, one of our little goalies got her confidence crushed. Though she played hard, she let lots of  goals in and she felt like she'd let down her team.

I have two friends who played college soccer, one of them was the goalie for Guam's national team. I asked them if they'd do a small coaching session with our two goalies and a few other girls. Graciously, they agreed. Dressed in their soccer duds, these forty-something women gently guided  four goalie-resistant Meerkats through the ins and outs of playing goal keeper.

I watched from the sidelines as they dove, rolled, made upside-down and right side-up "W" shapes with their hands and hobbled like gorillas keeping close to the ground so as to never miss a ball. At the end of the session, as the girls stretched, one of the coaches had the girls go around in a circle and share, "Say one thing you did well today and one thing you want to work on."  Naming what they wanted to work on was easy; saying what they did well was much more challenging.

After the coaches left, the girls all stayed to play Lighting, a fast shooting game where the goalie rotates. Normally, no one wants to play goalie, especially during Lightning. But on this day, all of the girls kept their keeper gloves on (and it wasn't very cold out) and fought to play goalie.

Later that day Lucia said to me, "Mom, I really need to practice playing goalie more." What the hell!? "You like goalie?" I inquired, trying to keep a neutral tone. "Yeah" she quipped, as if it was obvious.

What changed? The girls got a lesson and they had fun. They went into something feeling afraid and their new coaches broke the fear down, lightened it up for them. Do you remember when you first started practicing yoga? I do. I felt completely in the dark. And I often still do. I needed my teachers then, and I need them now, to break things down for me, give me support and strength and guidance.

Today when I taught, as I often do, I felt incredible gratitude for my job. I love it. Every class I teach, I love. The looks on the faces of students struggling to hold balance or find alignment is infinitely inspiring. I know I give a lot of feedback about what students can do better-- "lift your chest more, relax your forehead, balance your weight more evenly across your feet." But I might not say enough, "Think about what you did well today." Forgive me if I don't say it because I think it. You do a lot well. Everyday.

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