“Coach”

Something an athlete never thinks they will be called.

But that was something I was called for the second time in my life today.

The first time was this past summer when I was a swim coach. As cool as that was, it didn’t hold the same effect that being called “coach” today did. That’s probably because I was never a swimmer. I knew the basics but never considered it to be one of my “sports.”

Soccer, however, that’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

When I put on my cleats today (for the first time since 2012 most likely), it was like everything fell back into place. And everything felt right.

My mood brightened and I felt happier than I have in days.

There was something about passing the ball, running around on a grass field, and just being encompassed with everything that is soccer, that just felt so right.

Then the head coach introduced me as, “coach Ashleigh.”

I don’t even know how to describe that feeling.

It’s probably a mix between batteries being so charged they explode and wanting to jump around for hours from excitement.

The sport I had dedicated 14 years of my life to, I was no longer a player. Today I became a coach.

Not only did I become a coach today, but I was reminded of a few things.

I was reminded of how much I love this sport. How much it taught me. How much it is a part of me and was part of my life.

I was also reminded of how much I miss being an athlete. When you graduate high school and don’t go on yo play collegiate athletics, they forget to tell you something.

They forget to tell you that you’ll never feel that pregame nervousness again. Or that rush when the first whistle is called for the game to start.

They don’t tell you that you’ll actually miss running sprints with your team because nearly dying on the field is, ironically, something you bond over and wonder how you got through it.

They don’t tell you a lot of things.

But they do instill a love for a two-toned ball that you’ll never understand.

A love that makes you want to run around a field with a bunch of eight-year-olds so you can capture some of that magic again.

And if I can give these kids half of what this sport has given me then I will have done the title of coach justice (and teach them a thing or two about ball control and avoiding toe balls as well. You know, minor details).

So I hope my fellow previous athletes out there can relate to what I felt today and feel the same way about their respective sports as I do mine.

I wasn’t the fastest. I didn’t have the best skills. I never scored.

But I got a love for the game that caused me to get chills when the word “coach” was put before my name.

(photo credits to my professor Welch Suggs)

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