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Saturday, October 5, 2002

When I found out David was coaching an under-10 soccer team, I was excited. I haven't been to a youth soccer game since David himself played under-12s, and he's 21 now. Finally today I got a chance to watch his team play in the City Cup tournament.

First I had to get there, though. I've never been to the park where they were playing, and even though I scribbled down the directions Suzanne gave me, I couldn't read my own writing very well. I had a map, and that should have been enough.

But I had two big obstacles to overcome. First, the streets in Cotati and Rohnert Park go in all different directions, circle around each other and double back on themselves. Nobody's even sure where one city ends and the other begins. And second, I can get lost even in a place where all the roads are parallel and perpendicular.

That's a bad combination of circumstances, and I did end up going far out of my way. By the time I recognized some of the landmarks I was looking for, I was sure the game would be half over, and when I finally drove past the park, it took me a few more blocks to find a place to turn around and get back to it.

Oh, I never get to a place for the first time without passing it at least once. Good luck was with me, though. Someone was pulling out of a parking space as I drove into the lot. That was a kind of miracle, considering how many games are crowded into one day of tournament play. There were minivans as far as the eye could see, but I beat one of them to the last empty spot.

Good luck followed me to the field. I was twenty minutes late getting there, but they were 25 minutes late starting the game. I said hello to David and let him get on with his coaching. He'd already had a morning game that his team had won, and he didn't have much voice left. It was enough to squeak his way through this game, although not quite enough to carry his team to victory.

It must have been 90F or hotter out there on the field, and it was just as hot on the sidelines where I paced. I've never been able to relax and sit while watching a soccer game, even one like this where I knew only one of the players. I do manage to stay out of the way of the parents, who are compelled by some instinct to shout instructions to their offspring, even though the kids can't hear them and would ignore them even if they could hear.

Considering the heat, the game was well-played. It was hard on the boys to keep running and stay focused during the whole game, and there were some times when they seemed to forget where they should be and what they should be doing. It was their second game of the day, and it showed. But it was fun watching them.

The heat affected me more than it did them, I think, even though all I did was pace. I didn't realize until I got home that I'd been out in the sun without protection for over an hour. My neck and face got a little singed, and I had a serious headache most of the afternoon. I had to sit underneath the ceiling fan for the longest time, just to get a little energy back. I'm not sure how David's players spent the afternoon, but I'd guess they were out running around in the sunshine within an hour of the final whistle.




garden

My garden is getting greener every day now.



Having seen just one game, I can't say what the atmosphere is around David's team. Today it was fine, almost mellow. I didn't hear a single word of criticism or complaint, just encouragement and guidance. I suspect that's the way things are, because David learned a lot about coaching from the best kid wrangler I ever saw, his father.




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Bob, And If I Die Before I Wake, October 4, October Letter

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