When most people think of "community service," things like soup kitchens, retirement homes, and The Salvation Army come to mind. Doing a service for the community should be something you enjoy wholeheartedly. That is one of the reasons we decided to coach a girls' soccer team this fall.
We willingly gave up our Saturday afternoons and one night a week to hold practices and coach games. This was a small amount of time to sacrifice for the amount of joy we received from coaching. At first we were intimidated by the pressure from parents, the other coaches, and the girls themselves. But, as we got to know them, and they developed a respect for us, things fell into place.
In every player we saw a little of ourselves. These rascals didn't need too much teaching. They were excellent players and good friends. Sometimes it was hard to be serious when we watched them horsing around and talking about their daily pre-teen traumas.
Coaching this team gave us a chance to relive our middle school days. However, there were times that we had to do some yelling, have serious talks, and make them run for misbehaving. It made us appreciate and understand our high school coach a lot better. We now can understand his frustration with unresponsive players. We even found ourselves yelling some of the same phrases he yelled at us when it was our turn to be on the field.
It was great to watch our girls massacre the inexperienced teams, but it was even more gratifying to watch them keep their dignity as they were challenged with the more difficult teams. Our record was 3-4-1, and we ended the season in third place (out of a four-team league). Our record does not, however, reflect the hard work and effort put in by our puerile team.
The most satisfying part of this experience was at the end of the season that the girls asked us to return next year to coach them. So, when you're required to do community service, remember it shouldn't be something you do for recognition by a college or an employer. Instead, it should be something that makes you smile and makes someone else feel good. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.