About two weeks ago, I started to wonder when we'd get the call.
We signed Yvie up for her second season of AYSO and it was around early August when we got a call last year from her coach, and soon we were off to buy her soccer cleats, shin guards and a soccer ball.
Before too long, she went to a practice and then the season started.
I found myself both looking forward to the call and not wanting to take it. After all, soccer means fall, which means the summer is over and it's back to school and back to the grind.
Not really expecting the call until August, I got the call in July. However, it was not the call I was expecting.
"Hi Mr. Bueno. We have you down as having an interest in coaching your daughter's team."
A rock settled into my stomach. I knew then that, no matter what happened, no matter what I told the voice on the other line or what Mrs. LB and I would talk about afterward, that I'd end up being Yvie's coach.
Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing. But it is something I didn't want to do. For various reasons. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with that, and while I feel I can be responsible with things like that, I also felt that it might be taking on something that would put even more strain on my time. As it is, with the girls around me 24/7 and my freelancing and household duties, it might be the proverbial straw that did the camel in.
The voice proceeded to tell me about how they were in need of a coach and that all I had to do was to attend a coaching clinic and then I'd be able to coach the team. He was talking to me as if I was interested in doing it, but I wasn't. I listened, though, because I knew what was going to happen.
I tried to postpone it. I told him that I really had only wanted to be an assistant (and even that was a bit of a tale as Mrs. LB had checked the box that said assistant coach on the application for me and volunteered me for that), but this voice had apparently glanced right over the "assistant" part of the application.
I told them to let me think about it for a few days and that I'd have a decision for them the next time they called.
I tried not to think about it, tried to come up with a good reason to not coach.
Crap. There's gotta be something.
"Hey Mr. Bueno, we have you down for a coaching clinic on Aug. 1 and were hoping you could attend," another voice told me on the follow-up call.
"What?" I thought.
"No, actually I hadn't made up my mind yet," I told the other voice, and then since I knew the outcome I went ahead and asked for some of the details.
* U-6 girls, only girls as opposed to the U-6 mixed teams from a year ago
* No practice. Gameday consists of 30 minutes of skill training and then a 30-minute game.
* 7-8 girls per team. Everyone plays.
* Season starts Sept. 12
* Clinic runs from 8 a.m to 4 p.m.
There. I found it. I found the reason why I couldn't make it. I can't give up an entire Saturday. I had to work that Saturday night and it was going to be a busy night for me, a long drive out to Pasadena, lots of traffic, lots of people to deal with. Long night, late night, can't tire myself too much during the day or I'll have problems driving home.
I felt a bit of relief. I wasn't going to have to go through with it.
That lasted about one minute. I knew Mrs. LB would not care if I attended this clinic all day. She'd find something to do with the girls. And I'd be free to attend this clinic.
I told this voice the same thing I told the other voice.
"Let me think about it."
Of course, I didn't think about it. I went on thinking about other things except this. Until the Tuesday before the clinic, when a third voice called me.
"Hi Mr. Bueno. I just wanted to confirm that you'll be out on Saturday for the coaching clinic."
"Yeah, I'll be there," I said. "What do I need to bring?"
So now, I'm coach once again. I actually volunteered to coach an AYSO team in 2000, and I have no idea why to this day. It was like U-12 boys and it was not a great experience. I think in the back of my mind I had that bad experience as proof that I couldn't effectively do this coaching thing. And also there are the parents to deal with, and parents can be tricky. We lucked out last year and had a good group of parents on Yvie's team, although volunteering for some was a foreign concept. And while we might have to deal with irate parents when the girls are, say 10 or 12, I'm guessing when 5- and 6-year-old girls are playing 3-on-3 soccer, not too many parents are going to care about wins and losses.
But I'm at a way different point in my life now than I was when I coached a team nine years ago, and I put Yvie first. These soccer people may have had problems filling the coaching spot and it could have been difficult for Yvie to participate in that case. Or the soccer people could have been blowing smoke up my ass. Who knows? And really, who cares? I had to make a call to step up for my daughter's sake, and I did.
I suppose I always sort of expected this, always sort of knew that I'd have to get involved one way or another with Yvie and Kennedy in their extracurricular activities. Now, I don't mind volunteering. I don't mind giving up time or money to make the girls' experience better. I'm not going to be the kind of parent that drops their child off at a game or recital and leaves. I intend to make it to as many of my girls' games as I can, whether it's U-6 AYSO or a high school playoff game.
I have the freedom to do things that not a lot of parents can do, which is to be around during the week and on weekends for the girls. I work on my own time, at my own rate. And things like coaching come with the territory. It is my obligation to volunteer, and I don't mind doing so.
Part of me just wishes it didn't have to happen so soon.