A Labor of Love

It’s Labor Day Weekend, and while it’s time to relax we should all remember the most important people in our lives:  Our  family and friends.  I wanted to share a little story and a bit about me and what is important in my life.  I hope you enjoy it.

It’s the first day of soccer practice, and as usual when Xavier comes up to say hi he asks me to close my eyes.  I do this, and he takes my cap and runs with it, wearing it for the entire practice.  It’s a ritual and it’ ok, he’s a great young man, and he’ll return it when practice is over.  Xavier is part of a very special group of kids I enjoy coaching, the AYSO VIP soccer team, a program for special needs, physically and emotionally challenged kids.  I have been helping to coach these kids for five years now, it just never gets old.  This is the best time of year for me.  The kids all come up to greet me with a ‘Hi Coach Bob’.  Nothing better!

What’s ironic, is my kids are not even in the program.   Well, actually… sorta.  After my first year coaching VIP my kids, (now 16 and 14) asked if they could volunteer and help coach these teams with me.  I was absolutely impressed and overwhelmed with joy at their request, as any dad would be.  To this day the help set up the practices, play games with the kids, referee during the Saturday games and help out elsewhere when needed.  I could not be any more proud.

I give my all with these kids because they deserve to have a chance to be considered normal – if even for just a day.   They have their soccer games each Saturday with all the other kids in AYSO, and most games they play against other teams.  Each child is so beautiful inside and out, they just want to have a little fun.   Some have Down Syndrome, others are autistic, some talk, others don’t.  Some have issues everyday that we all take for granted, things we could never dream of and may never resolve.   Many are on medication, and some have outbursts for which we all need some patience and care.

But these kids just want to play some soccer, have fun in the sun and be the show.  And believe me – they are.  I’m sure Xavier will be looking forward to the next practice and grabbing my hat – and so will I.