Regrets of the Non-Volunteer


Here are two facts about me:

  1. I spent over a decade playing soccer.
  2. I spent every summer during college as a camp counselor.

Put those two facts on a resume, and you have an extremely qualified candidate to be the coach of a kids’ soccer team. Not that the YMCA is soliciting resumes and reviewing qualifications to coach youth soccer, mind you. They’re looking for pulses, and begging for volunteers. SOMEONE, please, they say. You’re going to be there anyway. Please, please, please sign the heck up.

But, last year, I didn’t. And neither did anyone else, until the very last minute when a dad bravely stepped up to the plate. He did a great job; this isn’t about him. It’s about me, and why I didn’t volunteer. Here’s why:

  1. I didn’t want to look silly.

That’s it. One bad reason. It felt even worse because, with twins, I gave birth to over 20% of the team. So, from the sidelines, I watched as someone else spent two hours a week playing and being silly, while teaching my kids how to dribble, pass (kinda), shoot, and (maybe) score. With a pang in my throat, with the image of a decade of beloved coaches in my heart – every single one of them male, by the way – I watched from the sidelines.

Which is to say, despite my a few self-conscious misgivings, I signed up this year. Immediately.

Sports for the very young are, at best, barely controlled chaos. I can’t decide if I’m more of a cat herder or a circus ringmaster, chasing rogue clowns. My own kids – two of them – are out there, too. My parenting is on display, as my darling twinadoes decide, moment by moment, if they would rather foment insurrection or, you know, compliance. It’s not always easy.

However? HOWEVER. Now , nine tiny kids call me “coach.” I can try – even if I don’t always succeed – to provide a place for them to learn how to play with a team and support their friends.

These are tough lessons – life lessons. They go hand in hand with a thousand other lessons I’d love to teach, and I’d love if my kids learned: Effort is usually more important than skill. Both moms and dads can coach. Everyone falls down; the trick is getting back up (with a laugh). Have fun. Play hard.

And sometimes, raising your hand and showing up is half the battle. I get to show my kids that. And you know what? Nearly every kids’ organization is out there, begging for volunteers. Maybe you can be show yours, too.

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Maddie Forrester
Maddie is a recent transplant to the Northern Kentucky Area, where she moved last spring after a decade in Columbus, OH. She’s the mom of three kids: A son, born in 2009, and twin girls, born in 2011. This is as exhausting as it sounds. Luckily, she thrives on chaos. She balances the glamour of working full time with the rigors of first grade homework, playing dress-up, and moving mountains (both metaphorical mountains, and mountains of laundry). She had hobbies once, but doesn’t quite remember what they were. Now, when she gets a moment of free time, she uses it to catch up on her wine and/or sleep, usually in that order. She also loves to cooking, running, singing badly while playing her guitar even worse, and reading.


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