Being "Coach A"

by Ariel Reynolds on Jan 07, 2016

in Our KIPPsters, Team & Family

Daniel, Edgar, Alonzo, Anwar, Fernando, Saul, Mark, Deny, Milton, Luis, Tracy, Gilbert, Jose, Bryan, Darrius, Terron, Noel, and Diante…thank you.

Thank you for allowing a girl to be your coach. Thank you for being my boys this season.  

As a recent college graduate, working my first real job, I naively decided to tackle a coaching position as well. I figured I had plenty of time and had played enough years of soccer that I could coach the sport with ease. I quickly learned both of these statements to be false. When I agreed to coach at KIPP Spirit, I didn’t realize I would be miles away from both the campus where my office is and the other side of town where I live, essentially leaving the office at 3:30 instead of 5:00 and returning home at 7:00 instead of 5:30. I learned logistics matter.

More than the distance and time consumption, I quickly learned good intentions don’t carry a team. There were days when I’d forget to plan out the practice schedule or would poorly execute some drill. I forgot to teach some of the rules that feel second nature for my experience but are foreign to a new middle school player. I learned planning matters.

There was a day I cried and stormed off the field, a day I decided not to coach and just play in the scrimmage, a day where I felt like I truly succeeded in being a coach, a day where I was more of a cheerleader and mom, and a day where I realized I wasn’t ready to give this up. I learned this was an emotional roller coaster and I needed to be in it for the long haul.

Nearing the season end, I am not ready to stop being “Coach A.” Reflecting back on my first season, I am truly realizing how much I will miss my boys. I seem to be learning the same lessons over and over again through KIPPsters. I see their grit and wish I had the same tenacity. I see their struggles and know I haven’t endured nearly what they have. I see the desire in their eyes to succeed to and through college and am mad that my ZIP code and skin color made it easier for me.

Looking back on this journey, I see how it mirrors a first year teacher’s roller coaster. Learning lesson plans…the lack of time…the under preparation…the ins and outs of a classroom…all causing overwhelming emotions new teachers don’t even know exist inside them yet. But it produces the same beautiful picture of relationships and the lifelong impact investing in youth makes. It’s the conversations after girlfriends break hearts and friends fight at the lockers that make the journey worth it. It’s the smiles and successes that prove you can hang on for dear life and finish the roller coaster ride to the end.

Each of my boys has a completely different personality, special gifts, and talents making each of them unique. I know they will each succeed in their own ways, and I am thankful to simply be on this journey with them.