Coaching Soccer in Toronto

The bizarre ways that this sport made me laugh, cry, and almost die this week.

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Exploring the depths of my pursuit of…meaning.

How to Get “The Disheveled Coach” Look

I frequently walk around looking like an athletic person who has abruptly decided to take all her belongings, and flee the city on foot!

A mesh bag full of tiny soccer balls,

A heavy backpack bursting out the seams with colourful pinnies poking out, soccer shoes barely secured in,

Another carrier bag with my coaching clothes,

And sometimes a garbage bag with clothing/equipment that very generous people donate.

It is ridiculous.

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What the hallway in my home looks like when I’m preparing to take on the day! I don’t have a car to pack this all into.

If you are anywhere along my path, you will be gently caressed by my large ball bag or softly knocked in the head with my backpack as I lose my balance. People have gotten off their seats on the subway, to insist that I sit down, to which I insist that, “Honestly, no seriously, really, I insist, it’s easier if I stand with all of my stuff…but thank you!”

But sometimes I arrive at home, stare up at the one flight of stairs, and almost burst into tears because I am honestly overwhelmed by carrying too much stuff.

When it gets dangerous.

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Leaving work to get to a training session with kids in Toronto.

Along with an amazing group of volunteer coaches, we run a free weekly kids soccer and life skills program at our not for profit soccer organization called Nutmeg Soccer. After realizing we are really growing in numbers, I wanted to bring more soccer balls tonight, so I packed an extra seven tiny balls into my ball carrier bag, and got on the busy Toronto streetcar.

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Mini soccer balls FTW!

Twelve steps off of the streetcar, I’m saying, “Oh shit!” as a guy calls out and proceeds to bounce pass one little soccer ball after another across College street, to me. I caught the balls while standing in the middle of a bike lane, felt slightly mortified but slightly entertained at my own expense, took one quick look around to make sure I wasn’t going to be hit by oncoming traffic or cyclists, and kept walking.

Slightly relieved and more composed, I looked over at two others, as they gently lined up their best inside of the foot pass to pass more spilled balls back to me. That’s when I noticed a massive gaping hole at the bottom of my ball bag.

Why it’s worth it to be a perpetual hot mess

Seeing amazing people want to get involved with Nutmeg as volunteer coaches, graphic designers, and guest speakers sometimes brings me to a state of euphoria, joy, gratitude, and blinding happiness, and I think about why I feel that way...

And it is connectedness. Connected to my city, to a community, or to a few communities. That is why I have fallen in love with Toronto, because it has helped me feel connected. And the biggest part of that journey to true connectedness, has been soccer. Specifically, coaching. Coaching has allowed me to learn about real things, and connect to the realest of people. If you’re still following, hear me out.

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Photo taken from a NUTMEG Session in December, 2016

The Coach.Connection Project

I want to capture you, talking about your coaching experience. Let’s start from the beginning and learn about your journey. I want to hear what your first experience coaching was like. I really, really do. Let’s share stories, let’s have a laugh. Let’s talk about the places that coaching has allowed us to go. Let’s talk about what made us laugh and what made us cry. Let’s talk about the people it has allowed us to meet. Let’s talk about those moments we fake it until we make it. Let’s talk about connection to the kids, knowing when a kid is special. Let’s talk about how f**king dope we feel when we coach. I want to talk about how powerful things in your life intersect through this journey. I want to talk about growing up and aging while coaching. I want to talk about when you felt pride, when you felt shame. I want to compare notes with you. I want to think about how we can re-imagine the sports system so that more kids can benefit from amazing coaches. Please contact me if you want to talk about this at alicia@opensports.ca.

Anyways…

Dropping little size 3 soccer balls all over College and Bay Street is a part of my journey, and I can laugh it off because tonight, more children will have soccer balls to play with.

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One day, I made a makeshift ball bag with a big plastic bag, and my scarf as a handle. Also holding nets, a big sports duffel bag, pinny, bag, and purse. This plastic bag is evidently more robust than today’s disaster!!!

Let’s get more people feeling connected through sports by sharing our stories :)

Cheers,

Alicia

On behalf of OpenSports, the tech platform that’s connecting you to more sports in your city.

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Inspiring stories about organizing and playing pick-up/drop-in sports. Create and find games on our amazing app & website 🏀⚽️🏐🎾🏃🏼 https://opensports.net

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