Holiday Thank-You’s

By Mike Singleton, Director of Coaching, Mass Youth Soccer

As we finish Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season is in full swing, I realize it is an appropriate time to take a few moments to appreciate others in life. Growing up, my mother always taught me to say thank you whenever anyone did something nice for me. Whether that “thank you” was given in return for a gift or a piece of knowledge, a favor or a compliment, “thank-you’s” were always necessary in our household. Going to school for psychology, I learned the value of a “thank you” and the simple, yet powerful impact. Of course you mothers out there will appreciate what my mom thought when I told her this, “Mom is always right.” I will never admit to that generality, but I do believe in the absolute need for “thank you’s” in all we do. Thinking back through my soccer career specifically as a player and a coach, there are a lot of “thank you” moments. In fact, I consider these moments the true pay for my job. A few “thank-you’s” I wish to share, which you may find parallels to in your experience:

  • To the youth coach who told me that I was a better player than I believed myself to be and if I simply believed in myself I would become even better…thank you.
  • For the upperclassmen that welcomed me to my high school team and made me forget my age…thank you.
  • To the coaches who have served as mentors for me and allowed me to learn from their experience and perspective…thank you.
  • To my college coach who told me to educate myself as a coach and attain my licensure if I truly wanted to pursue a coaching career…thank you.
  • To my teammates over the years that have made me feel as if I were part of a family on the field…thank you.
  • To five year-old Johnny, who makes me thankful that I get to coach young players and brings a smile to my face every time I recount our “soccer-time”…thank you.
  • To the athletic trainers, doctors, and physical therapists that enabled me to play as long as I did and have taught me how to take better care of myself so I can keep playing…thank you.
  • To the players who trusted me enough to believe in my suggestions and help all of us improve as a team…thank you.
  • To the parents who have spent countless hours on the road to bring players to practices of teams that I have coached or programs I have run…thank you.
  • To the coaches and teams that have beaten teams I have been a part of and forced us to improve…thank you.
  • To those coaches who took the extra time to teach me elements of the game that I did not know and showed interest in me as a player…thank you.
  • To 11 year-old Joe who grounded my thinking when he wrote a paper in school about an adult that he looked up to (me) whose greatest quality was that the adult was only concerned in helping him (Joe) reach his goals…thank you for the life lesson.
  • To the endless list of family and friends who have tolerated my devotion to the game and the absurd time and lengths I have gone showing this devotion…thank you for your tolerance and understanding.
  • For the teammates who kept me laughing on trips and have remained family off the field for so many years…thank you.
  • To those players who have said thank you and told me what they were thankful for…thank you for making me a better coach.
  • To all the volunteers and people behind the scenes who have run tournaments, organized leagues, managed teams, lined fields, you name it…thank you.
  • To the game itself that has allowed me to follow my life’s goal of making children’s lives better…thank you.
  • To my teammates’ parents over the years who looked after me on trips when I was traveling alone…thank you.
  • To my mom, who throughout my soccer career has served as chauffeur, nurse, cheerleader, nutritionist, therapist, believer, investor, and, most importantly, friend…thank you.

This article may not seem to have a lot to do with soccer or be in any way helpful to coaches, players, or parents out there who read my articles in hopes of gaining soccer knowledge. However, if you have read this and feel that is the case, I humbly ask you to read the “thank-you’s” again. Beyond all the X’s, O’s, technical skills, and tricks to counterattacking are the foundations of soccer and, more particularly, youth soccer. I sincerely hope you can share a few of these “thank-you’s” with people in your soccer world.