I couldn’t be happier Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror. Now I can figure out which diet I’m going on. It’s that or get a new uniform. There are many things no one mentions when you volunteer to coach. Worst among them, you will become sadly out of shape. At least in college they warn you about the Freshman 15.
Before I started coaching I did a lot of cycling. I rode four or five times a week and raced another 20 times a year. This past season I didn’t touch the bike. While my lack of riding didn’t start because of coaching (I needed a break after 18 straight years of getting up at 4:00 am), coaching made it all but impossible to get back in the saddle. I like to ride in the mornings so training doesn’t hanging over my head all day. That’s hard to do when you don’t get to bed until the little hours on game night.
Game days were a whirlwind. I’d get to work early as I’d have to catch the 2:38pm train home if we were to have a prayer of making the game on time. Thus every meeting was crammed in before 2:15pm at which point I left the office at a full sprint, the two block run being the only exercise I got all summer (don’t knock it, New York City blocks are notoriously long.) Once home, it was double check the game charts were in my bag, the minivan still had the equipment it permanently housed (my wife loved the mud, dirt and sand which also took up residence, I’m lucky like that) and then pack, check and recheck my son’s equipment bag (yes, I’m totally clear on my enabling his laziness and lack of accountability, but this is baseball we’re talking about. I’m sure my priorities were straight on this one.) I happened to have a father who had panic attacks about being late so my son and I left 30 minutes earlier than the time Google Maps said it would take to get to the field that night (telling your son the coach has to be there super early to make sure he knows exactly how field plays works only so many times when you go 2-11.)
The fun really began when we got home after the game which would be 8:30pm if we played at home and closer to 9:15pm if we travelled. First up, getting him undressed outside lest the dirt follow us inside (ok, my wife doesn’t really love the dirt.) Then down to the basement to throw his socks in the washing machine and soak his pants (red socks which run and white baseball pants are simply not a good combination.) Dinner time! I had a good 15 minutes to chow down and respond to work email before it was time to put down one of the kids (to bed of course.) Ideally, I’d be out of there by 10:00 pm at which point I could hang up the now clean socks and put everything else sans pants in the wash. I’d grab a beer from the fridge downstairs and plop down in front of the TV with my beloved game charts. Stats were always first (pitching followed by defense followed by offense), followed by a rotation update based on pitch limits, and then the next game’s lineup and positions. I dreaded the positions. It’s like juggling machetes (balance innings in the field, give everyone a chance at various positions but keep some consistency so kids weren’t bouncing all over the field inning to inning and put a competitive team out there while not showing a hint of “Daddy Ball”.) By the time it came to positions, I was ready for beer number two which was good because it was also a reminder I needed to hang up the clean uniforms. Now all that stood between me and unwinding was a game recap emailed to my assistant coaches along with the stats and the next game lineup and positions. Of course it was also between 12:30am and 1:00am now. On good nights, I was lucky not to pass out on the couch, so there was no chance I was going to get up three hours later to ride.
Lack of time, lack of sleep and late night eating and drinking; I doubt you will find a Tour de France champion with that combination of habits, though I’m guessing I’m not alone as a coach. And truthfully, I wouldn’t change a thing (well, I’d lose 15lbs before the season.) At least there’s some hope. With Thanksgiving out of the way and soccer season over, I can start that diet and make the long-awaited date with my bicycle. At least until winter baseball sessions start next month.