Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Youth Soccer Drama

The Moose (now 7) is now in his fourth season playing soccer for our local community association. While I coached in past seasons, I decided not to this spring due to my busy life (meaning the addition of Luigi) and uncertainty about how my dislocated wrist would heal. Anyway, the way the league works is that teams have one practice a week and a game on the weekend. For the games, teams usually "practice" for about 15-30 minutes and then face an opponent for the remaining 30-45 minutes in 3 versus 3, small-sided games.

A few weeks ago, while The Moose was on his field, the head coach was on a different field and shared this experience.

While coaching (three players) on the furthest field from entrance, a non registered parent volunteer helping the other team, attempted to physically and verbally intimidate me. It has come to my attention, post game, that he had little to no understanding of the USA Soccer/(local organization) rules for the U7 division and that he thought I was belittling the kids on his team. As most of you have been on my team for several seasons, you will note that throughout my years of coaching, I have consistently held the same expectation for myself and for my boys- promote improvement and development, safety and confidence, and above all else, respect. I take my position as a coach extremely seriously as I recognize I am helping mold a new generations character and perception of women.

Because I was vocal about the rules and insistent they be followed, this man aggressively stomped across the field, got inches away my face - while flailing and pointing in my face - spitting everywhere - and yelled "you are pissing me off, coach - you are pissing me off!" What is especially egregious is the fact that this was all done in front of six and seven year old boys. I’m baffled by the thought that anyone would consider the physical intimidation and use of vulgarity towards a woman conducive to the development of boys. There is enough negativity bombarding our children that they shouldn't be susceptible to an added amount during a their morning soccer game.

I reported the incident to (the league) as soon as the game ended and they are in the process of taking disciplinary action. This man's public demonstration of his lack of respect for women, children and a structured family setting is disgusting and unacceptable. In the same way I do not allow our boys to participate in conduct unbecoming, I will not allow myself or my team to be subjected to this kind of potentially dangerous behavior.

As I said to (league directors), if I sound like an alarmist, it’s because I’m alarmed. This is horrible behavior that should not be tolerated, especially in the presence of impressionable children. Moving forward, I would like a written apology and his suspension from all practices and games for the remainder of the season.

I want to take this opportunity to set precedence and ensure this does not happen to any parent, volunteer or (organization) employee in the future. This is supposed to be a fun game where players and parents, alike, can enjoy themselves and grow from positive exchange. I am looking forward to a resolution and am happy to answer any questions at this evening's practice.

Since I was on a different field watching The Moose, making sure Pedro Tulo wasn't running on to the field, and trying to keep Luigi out of the sun, I completely missed this. I talked with the coach about this after the email, and she shared the story with me. As a referee, I've certainly seen awful parent and coaching behavior but not for kids this young. The goal of this league is to teach the game and encourage the kids to have fun. No one keeps score during the games (well, The Moose does), and it's true that everyone seems to want the kids to have fun.

A few days ago, I received an email from the coach:

It is with a heavy heart that I notify you of my resignation as (League) Volunteer Coach for the Spring 2018 season.

I will not be back for the Fall season but instead plan to move forward with another club.

This decision was incredibly difficult to make as I recognize the timing is terrible. However, although unfortunate, I hope my resignation provides a lasting reminder of much needed change within the club.

As I’m sure you are all aware, I love my boys dearly and only wish the very best for them. I leave being wholeheartedly grateful for the experience and time shared with all of you. Thank you for placing your trust in me and for allowing me to bond with your families. I have such beautiful memories of our team and hope our boys will continue to champion through.

At (league contact's) request, if you should have any questions for (organization), please feel free to reach out to him.

What the heck? There's definitely something missing here. Anyway, the assistant coach is now taking over as the head coach and a few other parents volunteered to help out. This is definitely a strange situation though.

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