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. Gabriella, another 6-year-old with a bubbly personality like Isabella's, is also on the team.
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 further in soccer than I ever will in tennis. My job is to keep giving them reasons to stay in the game.
Marlene Sokol can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 269-5307. She writes occasionally about being a coach for a little league soccer team on the Whoa Momma blog at blogs.tampabay.com/moms.