We didn't know our soccer coach prior to meeting him for that first practice on that balmy Saturday last September. He introduced himself and told us his expectations. His expectations were high, but the list of rules was short:
Come to practice on time. If you are not on time, you run laps.
If you are not going to be at a game or practice, call. (No call, no show, no play.)
The practice shirts he dispensed were to be worn at every practice.
He showed up for games and practices ready for business. Everything about him said, "SOCCER". He always wore a soccer jersey, except for the day he came to a game straight from a meeting in Atlanta. On that day, he wore his everyday business attire, which included a black suit and a bow-tie. Everyone got a kick (pun intended) out of seeing him in this new light.
He worked the kids hard. He was firm, but never raised his voice. He gave praise as easily as he handed out constructive criticism. He knew the strengths and weaknesses of each of his players, and gave them individual feedback to help them improve their game.
He taught his team to respect their opponents, to be good sports, and to work always as a team. After one game in which they didn't particularly exhibit the teamwork he expected, he had them go home and memorize this quote from Mia Hamm:
I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team. I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.
My daughter blossomed under his instruction. He coaxed two goals out of her-- the first two goals of her soccer career. She learned strategy, skill, and the feeling that one gets when hard work pays off.
Not all good teachers hold teaching certificates. Lucky for us, some teachers hold soccer balls(and wear the occasional bow-tie).
Note: My daughter also regards her coach highly. She posted her thoughts here.