Coach teaches life lessons to world’s silliest soccer team

You may know him as Steve Starnes, but I call him “Coach.” That’s even how he’s listed in my cellphone directory.

I met him five years ago when my daughter, Riley, was assigned to his YMCA soccer team. The poor guy volunteered to be in charge of a dozen 5-year-old girls who cared more about playing Disney princesses than playing sports.

Talk about patience, I marveled at his ability to calmly tell the girls to stop picking dandelions, quit turning cartwheels and leave each others’ hair alone so we can learn how to play kick, pass and throw.

It seemed like a losing battle as the Pumas played what we called “amoeba ball,” swarming like a shapeless single-celled organism around the ball and aimlessly kicking it in whatever direction we happened to be facing.

But over the years, the girls came to love and respect their coach, and even learn a few things about the game. We parents watched in awe as the girls blossomed from silly little girls to, well, silly little soccer players.

While other teams in the league saw their rosters change over the years, our core group somehow stayed together. I think it had more to do with the girls liking their coach and teammates more than the sport of soccer itself.

It was amazing to watch them progress over the years. You could almost see the light bulbs popping up over their heads with every season as they learned to work together instead of stealing the ball from one another.

I got the chance to fill in as coach three times over the years when Coach couldn’t make it. It was just enough for me to gain a new level of respect for the job he did as I wilted under the pressure of “Can I play offense?”, “Will you tie my shoe?” and “Can I go to the bathroom?” I did manage to go undefeated (2-0-1), but a couple more games and I might have gone to jail for child abuse.

Not coach, who never seemed to lose his cool around the kids, even when they didn’t hustle during the game but then sprinted full speed to the snack bag as soon as the final whistle blew. A tough loss was quickly erased by a cupcake.

After five seasons, the Pumas played their final game last week in losing the league championship game. There were tears, but more so because it was the last time they would play together and for Coach than the defeat itself. He is hanging up his whistle and the league is breaking up the Pumas.

Some of the girls will keep playing soccer at a higher level, while others will quit playing because they won’t have the same coach and teammates. But they will all remember the five years they spent together and under his leadership and the friendships they built on the soccer pitch.

He taught them about a lot more than soccer, like sportsmanship, trying your best and being good teammates. I couldn’t have asked for a better role model to guide my child through her first youth sports experience.

Things have changed a lot since I was a kid. I remember a football coach who lost money betting on our team against a fellow coach and then taking it out on us; a basketball coach who was a police officer telling me to “take out” an opposing player; and another football coach who cussed us and called us names, then wondered why we weren’t responding to his motivational techniques.

That makes me even happier to know my daughter has played for someone who has treated her like his own and helped her have a positive sports experience that she will carry with her for the rest of her career and life.

Thanks for everything, Coach. Or is it Steve now?

Comments

comments

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-South

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-SouthA pair of former teammates and rivals joined forces for [more]

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finale

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finaleThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans dropped their final game of the [more]

Ibarrondo comes to rescue to rally first-place Mutiny

Ibarrondo comes to rescue to rally first-place Mutiny The Myrtle Beach Mutiny needed a wake-up call late Saturday [more]

Pelicans split twinbill with Mudcats, play finale today

Pelicans split twinbill with Mudcats, play finale todayAfter the Myrtle Beach Pelicans fell 2-1 to the Carolina [more]

CCU's Biermann, Lancaster make All-American squad

CCU's Biermann, Lancaster make All-American squadCoastal Carolina shortstop Seth Lancaster and designated hitter Zach Biermann [more]

Pelicans lose fifth straight, play doubleheader today

Pelicans lose fifth straight, play doubleheader todayVictor Diaz's seven strong innings for the Carolina Mudcats were [more]

All-County Boys Tennis: Johnson, MB duo top list

All-County Boys Tennis: Johnson, MB duo top listThe future looks bright for the sport of high school [more]

Hess carves his way to Team USA surfing nod

Hess carves his way to Team USA surfing nodCarter Hess carved his way to a spot on the [more]

Pelicans' bullpen spoils Thompson's perfect start

Pelicans' bullpen spoils Thompson's perfect startAfter Keegan Thompson was removed following seven perfect innings for [more]

Piggot feasts, scores four goals to lead Mutiny win

Piggot feasts, scores four goals to lead Mutiny winThe Myrtle Beach Mutiny rolled to a 6-0 victory over [more]

CCU trio makes all-region; Lancaster an All-American

CCU trio makes all-region; Lancaster an All-AmericanCoastal Carolina shortstop Seth Lancaster was named to the Perfect [more]

Braves' icons Avery, Jones to appear at Pelicans game

Braves' icons Avery, Jones to appear at Pelicans gameThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans will welcome former MLB All-Stars and [more]

Coastal guard Labinowicz announces plan to transfer

Coastal guard Labinowicz announces plan to transferCoastal Carolina University men's basketball player Artur Labinowicz plans to [more]

Report: Myrtle Beach Bowl 'near lock' for 2020 kickoff

Report: Myrtle Beach Bowl 'near lock' for 2020 kickoffIn yet another development in the Grand Strand's booming sports [more]

Adaptive surfers depart for US Surfing Championship

Adaptive surfers depart for US Surfing ChampionshipLocal surfers, volunteers, and family members gathered at the Charleston [more]

All-County Boys Golf: MB's Jarman trades bat for club

All-County Boys Golf: MB's Jarman trades bat for clubIf things had worked out differently, Myrtle Beach High senior [more]

Gamecocks' season ends one win shy of Omaha

Gamecocks' season ends one win shy of OmahaThe University of South Carolina baseball team saw its season [more]

Pelicans' Ademan, Pereda, Peyton make all-star team

Pelicans' Ademan, Pereda, Peyton make all-star teamMyrtle Beach catcher Jhonny Pereda, right-hander Tyler Peyton and infielder [more]

Johnson wins at St. Jude, recaptures No. 1 ranking

Johnson wins at St. Jude, recaptures No. 1 rankingFormer Coastal Carolina two-time All-American and Myrtle Beach resident Dustin [more]

Gamecocks slam their way into final game with Hogs

Gamecocks slam their way into final game with HogsThe South Carolina baseball team scored five runs in the [more]

Pelicans win ninth straight, make late run at first place

Pelicans win ninth straight, make late run at first placeThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans racked up their ninth straight win [more]

All-County Girls Soccer: Gordon nets record, POY

All-County Girls Soccer: Gordon nets record, POYBlair Mueller remembers her first day on the job as [more]

Pelicans hammer their way to eighth straight victory

Pelicans hammer their way to eighth straight victoryKevonte Mitchell lashed three extra-base hits and the Myrtle Beach [more]

Gamecocks drop opener, face elimination Sunday

Gamecocks drop opener, face elimination SundayArkansas scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh [more]

Pelicans extend win streak to seven in walk-off thriller

Pelicans extend win streak to seven in walk-off thrillerAramis Ademan tied the game with a three-run home run [more]

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-South

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-SouthA pair of former teammates and rivals joined forces for [more]

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finale

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finaleThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans dropped their final game of the [more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2018 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach