Whether child is athlete or just having fun, help them stay in the game
Isabella was 4 when I started coaching her. Athletically, she wasn't the most competitive player. But I noticed that when she would arrive late, the children's faces would light up. "Isabella!" They would squeal. She is just a delightful child.
Two years later she is still playing, and I'm proud to be her coach again. Her dad is an accomplished player who declined our invitation to run a team. But one way or another, I'm going to get him on board as assistant coach. Gabriella, another 6-year-old with a bubbly personality like Isabella's, is also on the team. I'm not even asking Gaby's mother to be team mom. I left her a message on voice mail. Tag, you're it.
It's a cliche to say that I plan to show these kids "a good time." But the fact is, some of them are athletes the way I am an athlete. I took up tennis this summer for the first time in 51 years. I play as often as I can, and joined a Sunday morning league. Usually I lose. Badly. But I just absolutely love playing, my doctor says it's good for my bones, and I can see incremental improvements along the way. I am sure Isabella and Gaby will go farther in soccer than I ever will in tennis. My job is to keep giving them reasons to stay in the game.