I've been coaching Scout's soccer team for the last five years, and watching her develop as a player has been truly rewarding. There have been a lot of memorable moments, but today was Scout's finest hour.
Toward the end of the first quarter, our opponents got the ball near midfield, and it looked like they might have a break away. Scout was well out of the play, but she got on her horse. She was really moving when she got to the ball. Depending how you look at it, her feet got tangled up or she was tripped. Either way, she took a pretty wicked fall. The ref immediately blew the whistle, and I ran out to make sure she was OK. She was crying, but I could tell she was going to be alright. Fortunately, the ref called the quarter, giving her a little more time to regain her composure. She did, and she stayed in the game. I was really proud of her for sucking it up and getting back out there.
Like the old saying says, when it rains, it pours. In the third quarter, one of Scout's teammates blasted a ball in her face at very close range. It was one of those things where everyone on the sidelines cringes and involuntarily says "oooooohhh." As I ran on to the field, the look on Scout's face was breaking my heart. She was having a hard time breathing, so I got her to take some deep breaths. She was getting it together, but I wasn't sure she would be able to continue playing. I wasn't sure I wanted her to keep playing.
Maybe I should have just pulled her, but I wanted to give her a chance to make the decision. When she had herself back under control, I asked if she wanted to come out. She said no, she wanted to keep playing. I told her it was OK to come out, but she said she wanted to stay in, so I went with it. I'm glad I did.
Not only did Scout stay in the game, she played the best quarter of her life. I thought she might be tentative, keep her distance from the action. No way, she was her usual aggressive self. Scout has never scored two goals in a game, and today she scored two in a quarter. As a coach, I've never been so proud of a player. As a Dad, well, it was a great day to be a Dad.
While the goals were nice, what happened today is bigger than that. Scout learned something about herself. She learned she's tough. She learned she can handle adversity. That's a lesson that will help in the future, on the field, and more importantly, off.