I’ll never forget the feeling I had before my first practice coaching a U6 soccer team. I was scared to death and these were just 5 year olds. What would I do, how would I handle them as young as they were, what drills, activities, and games should I do? The first match I was pretty freaked out – just because I was afraid I’d forget something or discover that while all the other teams had been practicing and making progress, mine were becoming ace dandelion pickers. Those feelings tend to fade pretty quickly, but they can always make a comeback. Usually when you move to a new age or skill level.

Well, I figured having coached in U6, U8, and U10, I’d pretty much be past all that. Mostly because I thought I’d never coach beyond U10 or move beyond Recreation – I was comfortable there. Yeah, yeah, I can hear you laughing from here.

So why do I have those nervous twinges again? Well, I’m making the jump from Rec to Challenge (travel) soccer. Next Fall, in addition to my U10 Rec team (Go Storm!), I’ll be coaching a U11 Girls Challenge team.

While I’m still relatively new to coaching (5 years), the twinges are different now. I’m actually not that nervous, though ask me again before our first away match. I’m very excited. I coached a couple of the girls on the U11G team when they play Recreation and my U10’s have played against most of the others. My assistant coach and I coached together in U8 before coaching separate teams in U10, so it’ll be fun coaching together again. And for the first time, I’ll be coaching a team that doesn’t have one of my children on it! There’s something to be said about that 🙂

So you can expect to see more posts from ‘the next level’ as our team progresses next fall. Given the size and youth of our league, we were happy to have enough girls tryout that were capable of playing at the Challenge level. Between dance, softball, gymnastics, cheer, and other activities, some girls weren’t ready to make the higher commitment to soccer that Challenge requires. But this year we had a great group come out to tryouts and were able to field a very solid team.

I was just telling myself how great it was that we were in the ‘off-season’ so I could catch my breath, but now I can’t wait to get back on the pitch running practices. Guess I’m going to have to try to get that ‘D’ license after all.

Of course this is more complex than it seems. Two of my own kids made travel teams this Fall (congrats guys!) and a third will be playing in our U5 Rec division. How we’re going to be able to work out that schedule, I have no idea. Soccer Mom has made off hand comments about how "it’s your own fault!"

It’s official – I’m certifiable. But still really really excited!