Today I am ridiculously thrilled to welcome a guest blogger to our little corner of the web. Eli of Coach Daddy! Eli’s blog is full of wonderful information about soccer (or futbol, as he likes to call it), actually, all sports in general, food – oh! the food! -, the lovely ladies in his life, ruminations on being a dad and a lot of humor. He does the “6 Words” series that I have been privileged to be part of for a few times.
He’s also the proud father of three girls, all of whom happen to be spectacularly gifted in the athletic realm. So why is he here today, you might ask? Because I’ve often pondered if my husband is missing out, not having a son to teach football. Turns out, Dads of Daughters can be just as sports crazy, and Eli’s here to tell you why!
Fatherhood got you down, brother?
I’m talking to you, dad of girls.
I know you love them. But, between you and me … you had different plans, didn’t you?
You were going to be Cal Ripken Sr. with Cal Jr. and Billy. Archie Manning, with Peyton and Eli. At least Mike Dunleavy Sr. and Mike Dunleavy Jr.
But fate, she gave you girls instead.
Princesses. Tiaras. Barbie Dolls.
Nail polish. Boy bands. Feminine products.
Where did you go wrong?
And what can you do now?
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I’m an old pro at this.
I’m dad and soccer coach to three girls, 9, 13 and 16. We lose no time on game day mornings looking for the right color hair ribbon. Tears come only with serious injury – or big things, like losing a championship.
So, you’ll never pee your names in the snow with daughters. Probably. But, here are three things I’ve done with my girls.
Teach them to throw a spiral
Each of my girls has baseball mitts. Guess what?
None of them are pink.
Marie picked blue and red for her Red Sox; Grace, blue and white for her Rangers (and she didn’t want the same colors as Marie. Elise has a regular mitt, and an Angels cap. We play catch at the park, and they wear baseball jersey shirts.
The coolest thing, though, is that spiral.
All three girls have a favorite football team – Elise, the 49ers; Marie, the Cardinals; Grace, the Panthers. They emulate Colin Kaepernick and Kurt Warner and Cam Newton. Want a moment of bliss, dad?
Watch people’s expressions as they watch your daughter rip a tight spiral right to her sister, with a real football.
Your daughters’ first teams might be called Ladybugs. Fireflies. Maybe even Unicorns.
It won’t be long before they’re Cheetahs, Cardinals and Dragons.
Don’t let ponytails fool you. Or the little Velcro straps that make their jerseys sleeveless. Girls come to play. When you’re the coach, you’ll see a transformation in your daughter from participant to competitor. You’ll see a fire stoked in her that will inspire you.
Get close, dad.
Get close figuratively – take certification courses, read books, watch her sport of choice, learn it, especially if it isn’t one you played as a boy.
Get close literally – coach her team, invest your soul in her teammates, and at least once, get down to her level and see the game at her level.
I promise, you won’t find much prissy.
Ever watched a throw-in at an all-girls’ game in a tournament? The ball flies in, the ponytails shake, the earth moves, teeth grit, and the action?
It makes a horrible sound. Every bit as horrible as with boys. Maybe more so.
Just watch them compete
At some point, you have to concede the sideline.
Take up residence on the other side, where folding chairs and younger siblings and moms in puffy vests reside. But you don’t have to take a seat, babysit or make small talk with team parents about the weather and Obamacare.
Stand up and watch your girl.
See that feistiness that made you notice her mom in the first place.
Feel that drive to win. That same juice will power her through undergraduate school, her first heartbreak (and second) and her first (and second) child.
Take pride in her play, whether she hits the game-tying penalty shot or cheers her team’s star players from the bench, or anything in between.
Those spirals, those games won and lost together, those rides to tournaments and home from the practice field when she knew she could talk you into a Wendy’s detour for a Frosty? If you tune in and play along, I promise …
Your presence, encouragement, and engagement will galvanize the courage your daughter needs for her next chapters in life, whether they take her to the moon, the maternity ward, or the other matches in life that will define her.
That’s a legacy that will outlast a thousand signatures in the snow.
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About the Author
The son of a fateful objector of the Vietnam War, Eli Pacheco writes about his life as coach and dad to three daughters, come hell, high water or public depantsing. Follow him on Google Plus and Twitter.
Liked it, didn’t ya? I know I did. I love dads who are so close with their daughters. It makes the world a whole lot better. What do you like about seeing dads with their daughters? And what tips would you throw in for Coach Daddy? Share it with us in comments!softball photo credit: OkiGator via photopincc