The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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September 20, 2013

LEVINE: Being a part of the team

“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” — Vince Lombardi

Those words are what I’m going to live by when I step on the soccer field Saturday.

In my first coaching gig since early college, I’m leading a group of tenacious, hard-nosed, do-anything-to-win local athletes to the hallowed grounds of the Ericksen Community Center to see how much they want to savor the taste of victory.

We’ve scouted the other team’s best players and have a game plan ready for their up-tempo attack.

That plan came to fruition Tuesday when I initiated our first practice.

OK, so maybe they weren’t as bloodthirsty as a group of over-masculine high school football players, but they jumped for joy during our warm-up session involving jumping jacks.

So it won’t matter who wins and loses Saturday, since my group of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds will likely get more excited about the after-game snack than the actual kicking of the soccer ball.

This is my life as a dad now. And it’s always something I believed I would do.

My grandfather was a coach, my dad officiated and my brothers and I were always involved in sports (my brother now coaches). Growing up, I thought I would be a coach.

That didn’t quite pan out, so now I’m here, coaching children’s soccer on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

And after our first practice, I feel good about our team. It’s not that I believe we’re going to steamroll the competition, because I doubt they even keep score. At this age, the process of just knowing what to do on the field is the biggest part of the game.

I was a little nervous going into the first practice because I know what 3-year-olds can be like — I live with one.

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