Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I was a prisoner of inertia

I coach a boys soccer team, something I've done for several years. During practices, we like to work on spacing and passing, and we always end with a little scrimmage. If there's an odd number of kids, I take part in the drills and scrimmages to make sure the groups are even.

If I'm playing in one of the scrimmages, I'll try to keep the score close. If my team is ahead, I won't try to score myself. Instead, I'll pass off to one of the kids to give them a chance to score. If my team is behind, I'll put a little more effort into evening out the score.

In today's practice, we had an odd number of kids, so Coach Don was playing in the scrimmage. The other team was ahead, so I was trying to keep the score close. One of the kids on the other team was dribbling down the field, and I was the only defender between him and the goal. He took a shot at the goal from a distance. As the ball rolled toward the goal, I ran it down and kicked it out. It would have been a stunning play if not for the next part.

Like a professional wrestler thrown against the ropes who can't keep himself from bouncing back, I was now a prisoner of inertia. After kicking the ball out, my momentum continued to propel me forward. And due to the muddy conditions, I was unable to change my direction. Which was unfortunate, because I then found myself propelled into the goalpost.

The sight of the coach sliding into the post elicited some laughs from the kids, which was not unexpected. After all, they are 8 and 9 years old. I'm just thankful that I didn't hit the post with my head. I would've hated to have dented the post.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Do I have to play?

Several years ago, Chris, my Little Brother from when I was a Big Brother in BB/BS (http://www.bbbscentraltx.org/), and I would play laser tag occasionally. There's a couple of places to play laser tag in Austin, but Chris and I liked Blazer Tag (formerly Blazer Laser) in south Austin. It was an old movie theater, so the place was HUGE! And since it had tall ceilings, the room had ramps and platforms that went up 3 levels high. The ramp walls were about waist high on an adult, and the platforms usually had taller walls to hide behind.

One of the things that Blazer Tag does is team scores. When you sign in, you give them a code name and they put you on a team: red, green, or yellow. The pack you wear will have lights on it that are your team colors. During the game, you're trying to shoot as many of the other team's players to get a high score, and your score counts towards your team score. If your team watches each other's back, then you stand a good chance of winning the team portion.

Now the bad part: when a bunch of kids were there for a birthday party, they would all want to be on the same team. So when other people signed in with small groups, they were put on the other teams to even them out. If there was a big group of little kids who all wanted to be on the same team, and some older kids signed up 2 or 3 at a time later, then the other teams would have an advantage because they had fewer little kids. NOTE: Little kids were at a disadvantage because they couldn't see over some of the walls that bigger kids (and adults) could see over. Plus, younger kids don't think three-dimensionally, so they usually just look straight ahead. If they were on a level below you, you could usually shoot them from above, and they would never know who shot them because they never looked up.

So one time Chris and I sign up. When the time for our game was called, we went into the briefing room where they explain the rules and wait for the previous game to finish. We sat down and a little girl (about 8) asked me what team I was on. I told her I was on the red team, and she started crying. I looked to her friend for an explanation, and the friend said that in the previous game, a "big kid" on another team had followed "crying girl" around and kept shooting her over and over. And she was crying because I was on a different team and she thought I was going to do the same thing. I assured "crying girl" that I don't do that because 1) I'm not that mean, and 2) I'm lazy. Once I get in my favorite spot, I rarely move the rest of the game. I let the enemy come to me. :)

The marshall explained the rules, and at the end she asked the players if we had any questions. The sad little girl raised her hand, and doing that sniffling thing you do when you can't stop crying, she asked, "Do we have to play?" The marshall was confused but answered, "Uh, no." And the little girl left.

A few minutes later, there's a knock at the door, and the little girl's mom comes in to chew out the marshall for letting the big kids pick on her daughter. The whole time she's doing this, she keeps looking over at me giving me the evil eye. And I wasn't even the big kid in question. Heck, I hadn't even played a game yet.

So after the lecture, the mom storms out with her daughter and the game continues. I don't remember if my team won, but at least nobody else cried. Well, other than me. :)