I’m that Maniac Coach

Things I’ve actually said to children under the age of 12:
“One rule guys, when we score, we lose our minds!!!!!”
“YOU need to score a bicycle kick right now!”
“I need 100 goals from you in the next shift”

Things children have said to me:
“What’s a bicycle kick?”
“I’m cold and dizzy”
Who do you keep calling Marissa? I’M Marissa!”

I will defend these things in a moment but I feel that context is everything before declaring a parent unfit to coach/ be around kids so here’s some context…

My new favourite person in the world is Jurgen Klopp.
“Who is he and why do I care?”

You care because he is Liverpool’s new manager and he is a maniac. He is German and adds an intensity so refreshingly different to the English game where coaches tend to choose their words carefully and be in relative control of themselves. I wouldn’t just say that I love him, I might be IN love with his coaching style. He is simply a maniac and a motivator.

Interviews with Jurgen are hilarious and honest. If he hears a question he likes he answers it out of a reservoir of knowledge and practicality. If he is annoyed by the question he can be quick witted with a humour not unlike the sarcasm I was raised with in the Kope home… laughing with a “you might want to rethink the question?” sort of flavour. Keeps people on their toes and using their brains…

When our ten and eleven year old girls score a goal, we all lose our minds.

I was on my actual toes waaay out of the technical area near where the other team’s subs are “taking a knee” waiting for a break in play to go on when we nearly scored. I yelled something unearthly as my body twisted in a way that is physically impossible (my own way of willing the ball into the back of the net) and on my was down my eyes locked on those of the nervous girls on the other team.

Were they afraid? Absolutely they were! Casting scared glances toward their “normal” Canadian soccer coach they started inching away from the touch line. Will they be confident during their shift? Not a chance!
Advantage Dragons!!

Whenever our strikers are preparing to go out it is always with a “score a bicycle kick right now!” ringing in their ears. Most of the time the response is typical but last night one of them actually said “I do know what that is, but I can’t DO one…”

What a terrible attitude. Disgusting!

“I’m cold and dizzy”… said no champion EVER!!! Unbelievable!

As to calling the wrong girl Marissa for most of the game… in my defence I had forgotten her name.
Obviously.
I made up for Marisa’s indignation by calling her the “REAL Marissa!” for the remainder of the game. “Up the line REAL Marissa! Cut that ball out REAL Marissa!” That’s what motivates kids in case you didn’t know this before or are a terrible coach yourself.

I had a little guy on a team named Jake one year. Jake had no idea he was half the size of every other player out there because he had heart and loved to run and probably never stopped to think about his disadvantage.

The other team that day was killing us because they had a monster who could literally kick the ball the length of the field. This is a huge deal and can dominate the outcome of a game, their team in fact had four or five dominant players like that. They had been murdering other teams with no mercy that year and we’d watched other little players leave the field crying after losing 10-0. Classy.

Now there’s “normal” Corey and “coach” Corey.

Normal Corey would just accept this with a calm demeanour and try to win the next game.
Coach Corey had a better plan.

“Jake!”
“Here Coach!”
“See that Number 5?”
“Yes Coach”
“Cram his feet! I don’t want him to have a moment without you ON HIM all night!”
“You got it Coach!”

Did we win that game? Yes we did. Jake nearly reduced the monster to tears with his tenacity and he didn’t like it and neither did his coach. When Jake came off the field he gave me a mock salute, mostly because I was raving like a lunatic and singing his praises. Love that boy! I don’t think the referee every considered giving him a foul when he was a little… um… too tenacious because it was such a David and Goliath thing.

All’s fair in love and war baby.

We were also more organized than the other team who relied on demoralizing the opponent by intimidation rather than strategy, and we ran them off their feet. Their coach wouldn’t shake our hands after the game then went on a Facebook rant about how we “cheated” by kicking the ball out of bounds when in trouble by our own goal because that should be called for “delay of game”.

If she’d ever actually watched a soccer game she would notice that the clock never stops and you can kick the ball out a million times if you want to concede possession. Well, a throw in from the side beats the heck out of giving up a goal so…

If she’d taken a closer look she also would have noticed that one of our little gals who seemed to latch onto kicking it out of bounds a little too often also suffered with autism. She did terrific that year and her teammates really made her feel like part of them, which she was. It took her longer to learn things but we really worked with her mom to figure out the best way to help her.

Yeah I’m loading on the guilt for the other coach because I’m UBER competitive but you should see our girls skipping off the field even after losing a game. They LOVE it. I think my insane energy, high fiving everything that moves, and shouting encouragement until I’m hoarse every game is exciting.

I’m not even the real coach this year, I’m only supposed to be helping but that hasn’t slowed me down. After carefully asking Coach Kelly what it was she wanted me to do to help I took whatever she said as “Basically act like a maniac and get them to score goals”.

Done and done!

We finally won a game last night 3-0. Our vehicle was buzzing on the ride home and my girls chattering non stop. I think Ailish even got out of bed on time this morning because of it… THAT is nothing short of a miracle.

Do I know anything about soccer?
Not really. But I know people.

Someone said once that the most important thing you can bring to any team is your energy. I got energy in spades!

My wife told me last night “You’re a great coach baby!”
My response?

“I know” with a smile.

Corey Kope

Pastor. Father of 4 beauties. Devoted husband, Liverpool fan, and Jesus follower.

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