We finished up our flag football season a few weeks ago, and it was by far the most fun I have had as a new coach. I discussed what a bonehead I had been following a game, wherein I couldn’t allow more time for celebration with my Son-1. That was a big learning moment for me, just letting kids inflate and relate to their accomplishments however they like – within reason – and reinforce the positives of what got them there.
We finished 4-2-1 and #2 in our league, and that was a scrappy record to achieve. Most games are blow-outs. There are usually a couple kids on a team who are just a step faster than the other team’s fastest kid. We had 2 of those guys. And 3 other absolute scrappers who would run down anything close to them. But scoring in flag football at the kid level is from a little mis-direction and a cut-back and ZOOM, there goes #9 AGAIN.
We won a game by driving down the field in the last 3 minutes on 7 plays and scoring with 30seconds left. We tied up a game with 2 scores and stopped the other team on a long play. We had some controversial plays against us (HEY REF, CHECK YOUR PHONE, LOOKS LIKE YOU MISSED A CALL), and since I can’t remember one going our way I am going to assume the other coaches won’t recall those plays, so… For a team of 6 & 7 year-old kids to just keep battling and going and listening to the message of “Keep working”, it was (oh boy… here come some tears…) heart-warming and encouraging to see how each player grew up and improved in 8 weeks.
We finished the season handing out medals from the league, and t-shirts I designed and made for just the team and coaches. We then signed each other’s shirts with scribbles and pictures from the players, something more personal than the jersey and medals. The next day I talked to a player’s mom at school pick-up, and she remarked how much her son’s confidence had grown. He wanted to keep playing, working on his catching and throwing, and learning new plays. That’s really what this level is about, giving the kids an appreciation of PLAYING a game, making it FUN to play (cool plays and positive reinforcement help a lot), and reminding myself to keep it light.
Gotta renegotiate the contracts before next year, but I think we’re good. Have a meeting with the league to discuss missed calls and grade the refs, but other than that, gonna be a quiet off-season. Until soccer starts in August…