1. Jennifer
    Jennifer July 5, 2015 at 7:22 am | | Reply

    I loved this show. I’m the mother of 2 soccer players…we live in the DC area, and as the coach here describes, it’s orders of magnitude more intense here than many places. Vermont sounds like a dream. I LOVED the perspectives of both this coach and my fellow soccer mom there in Vermont. It was so fresh and personal and FUN to listen to this. It really is one of the world’s greatest sports to watch. I will miss these days…

  2. Carmen
    Carmen July 5, 2015 at 7:36 am | | Reply

    So how do WE get this coach?! He’s got all the right ideas about the mission of youth soccer. It’s refreshing to hear. I’ve definitely had my cowbell moments as has my husband so we laughed our asses off listening to this. Mostly though it just was wonderful t hear these folks talk about the larger mission of encouraging kids to make their own choices on the pitch, with all the success and failure that comes with that. I will send this show to all my soccer mom and dad friends.

  3. Joseph
    Joseph July 5, 2015 at 8:30 am | | Reply

    Yes. Yes yes YES! Great straight talk here about one of my favorite sports. I am a reformed screamer and sad that my soccer dad days have recently passed. I loved to holler up a storm for my kids, but I love the idea of checking in with the coach about what’s useful. This made me laugh and admittedly tear up. Those were good years. Thanks for these stories.

  4. anne
    anne July 5, 2015 at 8:58 am | | Reply

    If only all coaches and parents shared the traits of your sister and your son’s coach! I loved hearing the up-side of children participating in a team sport…the focus on supporting choice making, learning the art of losing gracefully and winning humbly, the thrill of team building.

  5. Marc Estrin
    Marc Estrin July 5, 2015 at 12:07 pm | | Reply

    I used to attend jhs home football games in which my grandson was quarterbacking. In the stands every time was an old guy with a gruff cigarette voice, who would yell one thing, and one thing only, for almost every play: “Get serious! Get serious!”
    Among all the other pedestrian parent screaming, this was the one piece of advice which seemed to make sense. The players on the field, I am told, couldn’t hear it, but perhaps it penetrated the consciousness of the football moms and dads in the bleachers.

  6. tom moore
    tom moore July 5, 2015 at 4:39 pm | | Reply

    loved the cow bell story. I enjoyed listening to Missy talk about her sons playing soccer and what they gained from their soccer experiences.

  7. Ben
    Ben July 5, 2015 at 10:46 pm | | Reply

    As a very young man, I unwisely agreed to to serve as umpire in a little league game in MA. Very soon after the game began I realized why I had been approached by a desperate league official for this seemingly innocent task. I had agreed , thinking how hard could it be to call balls and strikes on eight or ten year olds and that it might be fun. Early on The fathers of these unfortunate kids showed me why the teams had gone so through so many umpires before me. They said things so outrageous to their own kids and the opponent’s, that even as a 24 or 25 year old, I summoned up the nerve to announce that if one father spoke one more word, the game was over. About two batters later, after each had been jeered by his own dad, that is just what happened. Game over, stunned parents, afternoon wasted, everybody (except me) angry and embarrassed. Both coaches and a mom or two stopped me in the parking lot on the way home and thanked me. I don’t know if what I witnessed was an especially severe case of Little League Father Derangement Syndrome but I doubt it. What I heard in Soccer Mom, gives me heart. This coach has it exactly right and I applaud him. The other contributors sounded like they had their heads on straight as well. Thanks to Erica for putting out such an important and timely piece.This piece whould be required reading for everybody in youth sports: Coaches, families, referees, and yes – players too.
    Vince Lombardi’s much quoted remark; “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”, wasn’t meant for you.

  8. Jeff
    Jeff July 6, 2015 at 12:44 pm | | Reply

    Thanks Erica for this wonderful piece. There is much to relate to as I listen to the coach and parents involved. I particularly love the Tourette’s analogy-as a normally received individual and someone who is often embarrassed for others on my kids’ and other teams, I have let out a comment or scream at a crucial moment that I never thought I had in me!

  9. Jim
    Jim July 6, 2015 at 6:29 pm | | Reply

    I love that the coach talks about how soccer and team sports in general give kids a chance to crash into each other. Kids aren’t really invited to be physical like this anymore. And they need this and crave it. And they also need the opportunity to be ‘bad’ sometimes, and messy and overly-competitive so they can learn composure from actual experience. There was a lot of good sense in this show. Thank you.

    1. M.
      M. July 8, 2015 at 10:37 pm | | Reply

      I love this part, too, for an additional reason. A parent slips coach an offhand comment about his kid, “My kid’s a reader …” To this Craig vehemently blasts, “Well he’s an animal too!”
      This story made me wonder why we parents feel this overwhelming need to label, or worse define, our kids in this kind of way … Who benefits from self satisfying statements like those? The kids? I don’t think so. What Craig made me consider is how this kind of labeling puts kids in a box: “she’s my music kid”; “he’s our soccer player”; “my kid’s the reader type” …. And Craig’s enlightened response? “Your kid’s a kid with all kinds of surprises in store for you, so just keep the commentary to yourself, watch and learn!”

  10. Tess Swett
    Tess Swett July 6, 2015 at 9:56 pm | | Reply

    Excellent. Craig Stone is a tremendous coach, role model and educator!

  11. Dick
    Dick July 6, 2015 at 10:55 pm | | Reply

    Full disclosure required here: I am the proud father of Erica and Melissa and Jeff’s father in law. That said, I am embarrassed to say that I have four soccer playing grandchildren and I have never understood the soccer “thing”. In fact, when no family member was in earshot I have been known to talk about the “Tyranny” of childhood soccer. Because of this piece, (and the drama of the recently completed women’s World Cup) I am emerging from the closet where many other soccer skeptics must hide, mystified about the huge price being paid in the service of the game. I have thought what must go through the minds of all the bass fishermen who see their hugely expensive, overpowered boats languish in the yard for so much of the summer as the skippers drive all over New England to follow the games; and the birdwatchers who exchange looking at warblers for watching kids kick a ball around a field; The hikers who look longinly at nearby mountains and the sailors, desperate to find crews for the summer’s few races which might justify at least a small part of their investments, sitting unused at docks and moorings. Knowing nothing about the game it all has seemed a huge sacrifice. Till now. Thanks to Melissa, Jeff, Erica and especially Craig. Thanks to them (and maybe a big dose of Carly Lloyd and her splendid team mates), I understand far better the passion that the game generates and the place it commands in the families that have embraced it with their kids.

  12. Anne
    Anne July 6, 2015 at 11:41 pm | | Reply

    So good to hear this after experiencing team sports and coaches myself and through all the kids and now the grandkids. If I really let myself reminisce the voice and comments of my coach still ring in my memory. How very important these individuals are to the growth and future maturity of our kids. Yes, each one of mine I hope will hear this and remember. Thank you very much and kudos to Coach Stone.

  13. Georgiana
    Georgiana July 7, 2015 at 12:18 am | | Reply

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s been cool to listen.

  14. Robin Grunder
    Robin Grunder July 7, 2015 at 10:40 am | | Reply

    Really enjoyed listening to this – and especially the reminder that while you really might prefer to be out there on the field playing, it is not your turn. The answer is more adult leagues, so everyone can play their own games for the right reason – it is so much fun!

  15. Scott
    Scott July 7, 2015 at 10:46 am | | Reply

    Beautifully done. And “rabid dads” — what a great description. Until we stand on the sidelines of our kids’ games, we have no idea how weak our parental ego boundaries actually are. If we’re lucky, we mature in our own way as much as our kids do in theirs, precisely by our letting go of them, letting them make their own decisions, and letting them fail, as Craig so eloquently puts it.

    There’s a famous letter to parents by Mike Matheny, a big-league baseball player and manager who also coached boys’ little league. Part of it reads, ” I believe that the biggest role of the parent is to be a silent source of encouragement. I think if you ask most boys what they would want their parents to do during the game; they would say, ‘NOTHING’.”

    I’ve been trying — often failing — to meet this standard for years now. Yet, as I hope to convey to my children through my own struggles, the main value lies in making the effort.

  16. Jason
    Jason July 8, 2015 at 1:01 pm | | Reply

    I think the rabidness underscores a problem some adults have which is the absence of goals of their own that they are trying to reach. I think it’s misdirected feeling, and that people really neglect themselves as they get older.

    I mostly wanted to post to let you know that your interviews are amazing. I love your style, and the subject matter. Your longer stories are always about something I had no idea I wanted to know about, but found myself riveted hearing about them. I’ve listened to several of your episodes upwards of 20 times, either because I love hearing what people are saying or because I want to revisit something to give it more thought or to bring it up in conversation later.

    Thanks for improving my life a little, and providing ways to talk about sometimes uncomfortable subjects.

  17. Norman Bloom
    Norman Bloom July 13, 2015 at 8:03 pm | | Reply

    Very interesting show…nicely put together. As someone who has been involved with sports my entire life; as a player, a parent and a coach, I can say you have touched on some very deep waters indeed. George Leonard and Dave Zirin are two writers who have proved useful, to me, in trying to understand the sports landscape in this country and whom I would recommend. Thanks for the program.

  18. Lyndsey stone
    Lyndsey stone July 17, 2015 at 3:20 am | | Reply

    I’m Craig’s sister ! I spent a majority of my youth standing in all weathers watching my big brother play Football!! Lol
    I’m now a mother of a boy who is more or less a replica of craig! He is an avid footballer. Since as parents this consumes your life my partner decided he would set up my sons boys football team, along with that I became the team secretary ! We spend 99% of our free time with football so why not become it !
    Every night I’m at different football clubs with my son, not in any pressure, this is all on his own merit, I see the same passion in Louie as I once did in Craig.
    I’m not the mam that says “my boy this, my boy that” which you so often see and being so close to the team we are conscious to not give Louie any special treatment (something you also see where parents are involved) infact at times he doesn’t get the credit he deserves enough for the fear of a confrontational parent!
    I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast, and can relate so much ! Having my son was the best thing that ever happened to me, and seeing him on that field is a feeling that can’t be described. Parent involvement is huge now in comparison to when Craig was a kid in the UK, however you see the same kids playing in the street , straight out from school, still in their uniform, you see some real talent out on those streets, but also some real shame of those parents not encouraging this talent and providing every opportunity their child craves and deserves, and hey parents ….lay off my big bro and let him coach 🙂

  19. Sam Schindler
    Sam Schindler August 4, 2015 at 6:25 pm | | Reply

    I’m a soccer coach and one day hope to have both my children (now 6 and 3) play. I played basketball all my life and came to the beautiful game only when I hit the ripe old age of 30. I’ve coached high school basketball and I now coach 5th and 6th grade boys’ soccer in Lancaster, PA.

    I loved this podcast for lots of reasons. In the main, because Coach Stone reminded me of why I coach, and taught me some essential lessons as well. The importance of learning through making mistakes cannot be over-emphasized. We are bombarded in this life with a fear of failure. I teach high school too and this is the very thing that both galvanizes parents and paralyzes students.

    Stone’s line that a player (even at the tender age of 11) is asked to make 450 decisions independently during the course of a game when in regular life they are rarely, if ever, asked to make decisions on their own was transformative for me. I had never thought of it in those terms. It is a tremendous task (or set of tasks) that we lay before them in a forum that is entirely unfamiliar, especially for those kids that are novice players. I will now approach this coming season armed with a new perspective. Thank you for that.

    In general, I find the podcast superb, and I can’t stop listening. I learned of it through Scott Carrier, who played the Vietnam vet-hairdresser episode on his Home of the Brave. On a semi-related note, my jaw dropped when I heard Joe Frank on the podcast. He is a radio hero of mine. I used to listen to his show on KCRW years ago.

  20. Brian (MOFYC)
    Brian (MOFYC) September 6, 2015 at 7:57 pm | | Reply

    One commenter above asks how do you get the type of coach interviewed in the story. As a coach in my 15th year, I can tell you the answer is simple, if not easy: parents have to do everything they possibly can to get other parents to buy into this philosophy.

    Virtually every coach I know who’s quit does not cite kids for the decision or even administrators. They invariably cite out of control parents. The good ones are being driven out by parents so that increases the likelihood that you’ll get a coach who shares the mentality of the psycho parents.

    Equally, many kids quit for exactly the same reason. That psycho dad heard on the audio… how embarrassed do you think his kid was? How much fun do you think his child had on the rides home?

  21. David
    David September 9, 2015 at 10:00 pm | | Reply

    I’ve been coaching my 3 kids in soccer for 7 years now, the eldest from his very first tot league to his current town travel team. It’s the most satisfying, humbling adult learning experience I’ve had. I echo all of coach Stone’s sage advice and pass along another valuable mantra I was given by an experienced coach (thanks roland!): “The game is the only teacher. Your job as coach is to use the time and space given to let the game teach the kids.” They get so much immediate feedback from all those decisions each game, you very rarely as a coach have to explain to them whether it worked out well or not. They know already. Your job is to give them a safe environment and the confidence to make as many of those decisions as they are ready for.
    Thank you Erica, I very much appreciate all your work.

  22. Alex Kaufman
    Alex Kaufman December 2, 2015 at 5:38 pm | | Reply

    First season coaching my kids team, so yeah, mega relatable. And I’m going to need a few weeks to binge on your stuff. If I can ever buy you lunch in Montp or somewhere to talk shop, I want to do that. Signed, your new fanboy aka the Wintry Mix dude.

  23. Ron
    Ron June 13, 2018 at 12:22 pm | | Reply

    Sports saved my life. God knows what I would have been into without baseball. I was good and throughout my years, baseball was my passion, my self esteem, my social network. I coached a semi pro girls softball team, the Budwieser Bells. When I coached Little League, we tried to have fun and teach skills. One of the most rewarding decisions as a coach was Not “pinch hitting” for one of the “weakest” players on the team during a crucial game winning moment. The boy miraculously got a hit and won the game! I hope that moment helped him through future challenges. My own boy, while playing catch, dropped the ball. He didn’t pick it up. Instead he kicked it up in the air with his feet. His passion was soccer. After being on travel club teams he was cut in high school to make room for a new kid in town. I can tell you his well being suffered the rest of his senior year. Winning at all costs at this level had consequences that his coach will never know. Erica, thank you for an honest perspective on the formative years of our children.

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