Letter # 14: To my first soccer coach
Dear Coach Jerry Vaflor,
*Bula, Bula!* (Bola, Bola!) [I think all coaches shouted this whenever they wanted us to get the balls]
I was 7 years old back then when I first met you and you first taught me the basics of what was to become the sport of my life. In first grade, I remember you telling me to try-out for your varsity team SOMEDAY. I guess I misunderstood that SOMEDAY meant when I entered 5th grade because I did try out in 2nd grade. Well, that’s probably why you didn’t choose me. Too young? Too small? I didn’t care. I was going to be on that team at all costs. So then I waited until 5th grade.
14 years later and here I am writing a letter to thank you.
Thanks for trusting me by taking me into the team. Thanks for the first time you inserted me into the starting 11. Thanks for teaching me how to harness that which I have as an asset against opponents – my speed. Thanks for teaching me how to pass the ball so well on the ground when I couldn’t make it fly back then. Thanks for teaching me how to run around and bang bodies against bigger opponents – telling me that with the right timing and balance, I could take them down without fouling. Lastly, Thanks for the high-five when I scored my first goal for the school – and for the high-fives for every goal thereafter . Those things meant a lot, really.
While I don’t know where you are (or even if you’re still alive given that you were at least 60 when you first coached me), That one summer clinic, that failed tryout, and that season where you coached me are things that I shall never forget.