My coaching season finished up a few weeks ago.  It’s been great to be home again, to not have the afternoon rush of bringing the kids to the babysitter, and rushing off to practice….not to mention the drama that I left behind with those teenage girls.  After thoroughly decompressing, I am now able to reflect on the season and the overall experience with fresh eyes.

This season was exponentially more difficult than the season before when I coached 7th and 8th graders.  This year I had 9th and 10th graders, and oh my the drama, the laziness, the complaining and the disrespect that came from a good number of these girls, mostly 10th graders.  To say that I am glad, thrilled, relieved that the season is over is an understatement.  Each and everyday was a battle .

Midway through the season I had a bit of a chat with the team.  I explained to them that soccer is simply a game.  At the same time the soccer field, their classrooms, and their homes are their training grounds for the people they will one day become.  The effort they put in, the character traits they build now, whether diligence or laziness, teamwork or selfishness, these are the things that will determine who they are in 10, 15, 20 years.  I shared with them that I love winning as much as anyone, but I am more concerned with the character they build through the season than the record at the end of the season.

My mini-speech had little short-term effect on anyone since the same people still complained, the same people were still lazy, the same people still had no regard for teammates…but I can hope and pray that my words will stick with them, and have an impact on their lives sometime down the road.

Reflecting on all this I realized that most educators and coaches don’t care much, or at all, about the character of their students and athletes.  They care about classroom grades and game scores, but don’t intervene in a young persons life when a lack of character is detected…at least this has been my experience as a student and athlete, and in observing other coaches.

The importance of character is one of the main reasons my husband and I have chosen to homeschool our children.  The development of good character is far more important to us than whether they know the dates of the Civil War or who was the 17th president.  Don’t misunderstand, I expect my children to study hard and apply themselves, but not because head knowledge is an end in itself, but because as they study hard, they are developing a character of diligence and perseverance.

Reflecting on this group of 25 high school girls, I was strengthened in my conviction that homeschooling is the right decision.  Why would I send my child off to school to be ‘socialized’ among peers with such lack of character.  Now, not all 25 were difficult.  There were quite a few who were a joy to coach, and who were equally frustrated with the handful of misfits.  I’d like to hope that my child, if in public school, would be like the players who were a joy to coach…but even still, why would I put them in the situation of having to endure to immaturity of these classmates who simply waste time and add little to nothing of value?  Why would I disregard the truth that bad company corrupts good morals, and inflict my children with such bad company on a daily basis?

Why would I send my child to sit under the instruction of those  who do not care to develop their character in addition to their academics?  Who spend most of their class time trying to quiet the complainers, motivate the lazy and discipline the undisciplined as my child sits quietly awaiting some kind of instruction?  And where my child will not be confronted for a bad attitude, unless it’s disrupting the class.

Why would I want to give up my God given right and responsibility to be the main influence on my child’s life, especially when the alternative is as scary as I saw this fall.