I grew up playing soccer. I loved it and always figured I would coach as an adult. I played all the way through high school, walked onto my college team, was an assistant coach for a high school team for three seasons while in college, and then also played for a team while I lived in England after college. I had posters of the iconic image of Brandi Chastain’s celebration after her title winning penalty kick from the ’99 World Cup on my wall. I wore #9 on my jersey for many years to be like Mia Hamm. I spent so many weekends with one or both of my parents traveling the southeast and staying in hotels for games and tournaments. Other than one small step back during a fall season in high school when I really felt burnt out, I LOVED this sport!
When I returned from England and moved to Columbia, I assumed I’d fall back into soccer, play on an adult league team or find a youth team to help coach, but it just never happened. I’m not sure why. I wouldn’t go so far as saying, “I wish I could go back and do that differently,” but I’m at least curious as to what it might have led to. There was one summer where I played on an adult co-ed team, and that was amazing! I was then asked by a friend to play on a different team that fall, but was pregnant with Romney Ann, and apparently playing contact sports while pregnant is frowned upon.
Anyway, coaching was something I had put in the back of my mind. Maybe when RA’s old enough to play on a team, I’ll coach then. When would I have time otherwise? When we get home from work around 6:00, Brandon goes to feed the animals and I get RA a snack and start to get dinner ready (or at least ready for Brandon to cook it when he gets back😊). The animals have to be fed and taken care of. The reality of the farm is that it isn’t just some sort of hobby you can pick and choose when you work on it. It’s more like a full-time job with requirements and deadlines. With that, sometimes it can feel like the farm makes decisions for us. Even if I wanted to coach soccer, who would watch Romney Ann when Brandon feeds up? Sometimes she can come with him, but sometimes it could be dangerous for her to be around depending on what needs to be done. Sometimes Brandon’s parents could watch her, but they both have their own businesses also.
Well, two weeks ago, I saw a Facebook Post from a friend, “Anyone in the Newberry area interested in being an assistant soccer coach for a bunch of cool 7-9 year-olds and a (sometimes) fun other guy to hang out with those kids?” I got really excited! I love kids and I love soccer! I’ve also been wanting to find a way to get involved in our community. After living here for over 4 years, it might be time (yet another blog for another day). Maybe this is it. I asked about practice times and when the games were. I tried to gather all the information I could so I could talk to Brandon about it on the way home. To be honest there was a piece of me that felt bad for asking. Coaching a soccer team would mean Brandon would have to watch Romney Ann while doing farm chores which isn’t always easy. I also know I can be someone who gets really excited about things without thinking them through 100%. I was dependent on Brandon to help me come down from cloud 9 and think this through logically. This decision would affect both of us. After talking it through in the car, we decided it would take some adjustment to our “normal” schedule, but we definitely agreed we could make this work.
This past Thursday was my first day as “Coach Sarah”! My cheeks hurt from smiling so much at the end of the night. It is maybe not the level of soccer I’m used to. Soccer really isn’t a popular sport in more rural areas, that’s just a fact, but it was wonderful just the same. To sum up what coaching soccer in a largely agricultural area is like, let me just share this gem with you. Towards the end of practice, there were two girls sitting on their soccer balls waiting for instructions on what to do next. This one boy, who has one of the MOST southern accents I have ever heard, says to them, “Why are you sittin’ on that ball like a chicken who just laid an egg?!” I could hardly keep myself composed. It was the perfect cherry on top of a wonderful evening!
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times where I resent the farm for the ways in which it makes decisions for us. I definitely do. BUT our farm provides incredibly high-quality meat for our family and so many other families too. Our farming practices care for and honor God’s creation. Farming is just another team sport I play now. While I’m not out helping with daily chores as often anymore with the arrival of RA, I’m just playing in a different position. And I’m thankful for the times when my teammate and I can work through and make things work so that while we may be playing a man down on the farm, I have the opportunity to do something I love as well for a different team playing a different game.