On matters related to coaching young athletes and raising a child of my own, I arrived to the party way too early. I was barely 14 years old the first time I stepped out onto a field to coach a group of young soccer players, a boy barking orders at slightly younger boys. Just a few weeks before my wife and I found ourselves screaming and hyperventilating in a hospital delivery room for the first time, I had blown out 22 candles on a birthday cake. Under ideal circumstances, a 14-year-old should never be left in charge of a dozen impressionable soccer players and a 22-year-old should never be allowed to be fruitful and multiply.
My first several years of being a coach and a dad were filled with joy and self-loathing. The kids that I coached and the beautiful little girl I came home to every night brought immeasurable love and a strong sense of purpose into my life. Yet there was always a nagging sense that I was barely keeping my head above water. More often than not, it felt like I was failing my kids.
The thing that forced me to honestly assess my contributions to my work and family was the simple act of writing. Assembling semi-coherent sentences on a computer screen helped me to confront some unpleasant truths about myself and on some occasions, helped to reaffirm some of the good decisions I felt I was making as a parent and a coach.
Shortly after my son was born, I began to share some of the things I wrote with friends and colleagues. Eventually, I distributed stuff to newspapers, local magazines, and readers of the KidsPlay newsletter. As my son approached his 20th birthday and KidsPlay approached its 20th anniversary, I thought it might be nice to group some of my favorite essays into a book.
I make no claims that Flea Flicker is a well-written book, but I do believe it makes interesting reading for any parent who is trying to steer their child through the competitive jungle of school and youth sports leagues; or any coach who is interested in becoming a better coach; or any mom or dad who looks at the games their child plays and wonders why they are so radically different than the games they played as a kid.
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