Coach Charlie

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way to make a song play when someone opened your email?
If such a technology existed, I’d have programmed today’s Free Swim to play the intro for Monday Night Football. "Da-da-da-DUN-DUN, Da-da-da-DUN-DUN."
Or maybe "Are you ready for some football?" sung by Hank Williams Jr.
The sun had just set, casting a warm golden glow over the stadium. This wasn’t just any game – it was THE game of the season.
Think of it as the Super Bowl for nine-year-olds. Both teams had stood undefeated at 4-0. Our little warriors against their mini giants. The atmosphere was electric.
Okay, it was a field, not a stadium, and there were only 45 people in attendance, but it was a big deal.
I was on the sidelines, soaking in the excitement and trying to stay composed. The other team took an early lead, but I knew we had the talent to mount a comeback. In the second quarter, we traded touchdowns and were down 7 points at halftime.
As I paced the sidelines in the third quarter, I looked at the other side and counted the coaches. One, two, three, four, and five. FIVE coaches for a nine-year-old team. Do they think this is the NFL? I couldn’t believe it.
To make matters worse, they were loud, screaming and cheering and feeding off each other’s energy. And I swear to God a couple of times they were looking right at me when they screamed --- GET HIM!!!
We got the ball back with a few minutes left in the game and were still trailing by a touchdown. This was it; we needed to drive down the field and tie it up. After a couple of first downs, we found ourselves in a 4th and five situation around midfield.
The snap was over the quarterback’s head, and we failed to convert the first down.
The coaches on the other side were hooting and hollering. I even saw one doing the gritty. I mean, he was 40 years old doing a Fort Night dance.
I wanted to puke. I was so mad!
It was a devastating loss. I knew sleep was going to be hard to come by on that night.
After the game, we hopped into the car, and I turned to my son Charlie. He wasn’t crying.
"Hey bud,” I said. “How are you feeling?"
With a nonchalant shrug, he'd replied, "Dad, I don’t even care that we lost."
"What do you mean you don’t care? We were undefeated!"
But Charlie, showing wisdom beyond his years, said, "We’ll see them again in the championship, and we’ll get them then.
There’s more to the season, Dad. And we were still in a good spot, second place."
“You’re not mad?”
Suddenly, I’d realized: If he was okay, why had I been making it about me? It had dawned on me that these games, these moments, weren’t about my ego. They were for him. If he was good, I should be too.
His resilience taught me a profound lesson about perspective and ego. Sometimes, it’s the children who impart wisdom to the grown-ups.
That day, Charlie wasn't just a player; he was my coach. Always be ready to learn, for life’s most profound lessons often come from unexpected teachers. 
Stay alert. Stay receptive.

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