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Coach Charming

What I know about soccer couldn’t fill a paragraph. It couldn’t even pad a run-on sentence. In fact, it can be summed up in two simple words: Hands off.

That’s a sad commentary considering the number of years I’ve spent watching my kids play the game. But if I don’t know what a goal kick is and couldn’t pick a sweeper from a team photo, it’s because I don’t spend my sideline time watching fútbol.

I spend it ogling hot daddy coaches.

That’s right. Plopped in my polyester folding chair, clutching my travel mug of strongly brewed, Coffeemate-saturated java juice, I hoot and yelp at random intervals so I’ll look and sound like the other parents on my sons’ teams. The “better parents,” some might call them. Where they’re actually watching our brightly clad, sweaty-headed children scramble across the field in earnest if mildly confused clumps, I’m scanning the surrounding fields for a glimpse at a species of dude that I find utterly irresistible — a brand of man candy that I’d like to slide tackle with a one-touch pass to his technical area, if you know what I mean. (Note: I have no idea what I mean. I saw those terms in an online soccer glossary and found them delightful. Don’t write to tell me I used them incorrectly. I don’t care.)

I realize that if I were a man and confessed to objectifying and leering at soccer moms on otherwise wholesome Saturday mornings, I’d be scorned as crude and sexist.

But that would never happen, because soccer moms are not hot. We’re not. We’re the opposite of hot. With our function-over-form automobiles, our carefully considered sacks o’ snacks, and our endless supplies of spray sunscreen, we are a predictable strain of anti-stimulant. A cliché in yoga pants. A has-been political demographic.

The hotness of soccer moms, though, is inversely proportionate to that of soccer coach dads. To be fair, any dad who coaches any sport is kind of yummy. There’s something both generous and reckless about a guy who’ll slog to a park week after week to wrangle a mess of unfocused and emotionally fragile rascals into a team called the Spider-Monkey Lava Monsters.

But my kids have done T-ball, basketball, football, water polo, tennis, BMX, and karate — and soccer pops are the most alluring coaches of all.

There’s a Zen sophistication to a soccer coach; he’s an evolved fellow, balanced on the Testosterone Spectrum exactly halfway between fat, yelly football coaches and sandal guys who “practice yoga.”

I love how soccer coach dads are always clutching clipboards, sketching out strategies (so manly!), and tracking lineups (so equitable!). I love that their intense game focus puts them far above the fray of tedious photo-day coordination and trivial end-of-season party planning. And, dear god, how I love when they shout, “Take a knee!” when a player is injured. Honestly, I get chills every time. It’s like a scene from a war movie about brothers.

This week marks the end of my son’s soccer season, and I’m sorry to see it go. I’ll have no choice but to rely on my memories of each and every Coach Charming I spied on the field this autumn — and, sadly, my fantasies are marred by my deep-seated guilt at not comprehending the sport in the first place. Here’s how they always go:

I slink up to a cute coach at halftime, throw my arms around his neck, and ask him if he’d like to teach me the game.

Then he utters those two simple words no crude and sexist soccer mom wants to hear:

“Hands off.”


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