Last week I talked about the issue of pride, but I wanted to make sure that you didn’t think I was immune to this penetrating disease.
Ever since my oldest daughter was three I’ve been coaching my daughter’s soccer teams. Recently I signed up to take an intensive two month course to receive what is called a “D license” which would enable me to coach my daughter’s regional travel teams. The United States Youth Soccer Association offers national licensure for coaches, with the lowest level starting at E, then D, then C, all the way up to an A license.
Those who tend to get E licenses are thirty pounds overweight, never played soccer before, and end up in the emergency room after practice hyperventilated. Those who get A licenses have usually played professionally in Europe, stand roughly three feet nine inches, run at near Olympic speed, speak Italian, and end up coaching college teams. Since I had eight solid years of backyard coaching under my belt, I wasn’t about to humiliate myself by starting out with a measly little E license. I decided to skip that and go straight for the D license course.
The first day of class I knew I was in trouble. The class trainer said, “People, this is going to be hands-on training: three hours a day, three nights a week, all day Saturdays, for two months.” I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding! I thought this was just going to be classroom work!” They led us into the gymnasium and our sadistic trainer, who literally just arrived in the United States from some Eastern European country somewhere, asked for volunteers.
I thought, “I’ll volunteer first, make an impression, and get this drill over with.” Seventy-five minutes later I’m in the corner heaving like Barney Fife. My t-shirt was completely drenched with sweat. My legs felt like rubber. My arms starting hurting and I thought, “Oh great, don’t your arms start hurting before you have a heart-attack? I’m going to be the first person to ever die trying to become a soccer coach!”
Barney Fife (from The Andy Griffith Show) and I tend to have a lot in common. Episode #103 titled “Opie’s Ill-Gotten Gain” contained this scene:
BARNEY: Boy, I tell you, if I ever came home with anything less than As, I just didn't dare come home.
ANDY: I don't remember you getting all A’s.
BARNEY: I did that once. Remember? The teacher made such a fuss about it that all the kids hated me.
ANDY: I don't remember.
BARNEY: Well, it's a fact. I didn't want 'em thinking I was some kind of a snob or an egghead or something, so I buckled down and got bad marks.
ANDY: That must have taken real effort.
BARNEY: You think you're kidding. Listen, an IQ can be a mixed blessing sometimes. Some people want it and can't get it. I got it and had to get rid of it. Life's funny that way, you know?
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