I haven’t told much about Child Three’s baseball team, for which I was an assistant coach. The team hobbled to a last-place finish in the regular season but incredible pitching got us to the penultimate game, which we lost for a third-place finish. Child Three had a marvelous season at the plate. The power isn’t there, but the batting eye is, as is the swing. The little on-base machine takes after his dad.
But now is hockey season. Child Three and I were ready to make and coach NDG’s Atom CC team this year until the city BB team cut an NDG goalie, bumping both of us down to Atom A, on a team with two goalies.
Our team was shut out in our first two games and have scored two goals in each of the next two, good for a 1-2-1 record. I love this team, though. Nearly every kid applies himself and, in one case, herself, and we may be the best skating team in the league. It’s beautiful to watch. We’ve been working on offense lately in recent practices….
I feel bad about today’s 2-2 tie, however. The kids worked hard, outshooting the opposition 18-6. I can’t fault our goalie for the two goals given up, both were great shots. My job as a coach is to put my team in a position to succeed, but today I put them in a position to fail.
One of our defensemen is new to the position. The basics of the position are just not sinking in, though. I teach and I teach, and he just doesn’t get it. Today, the entire team played poorly in the first five minutes, but the goal we gave up was on a rebound that went to a player that our out-of-position defenseman should have been covering. He had not been playing well or skating hard, and you can’t have a kid like that on defense. I decided to give him another chance before I would switch him with a wing who I know can play D.
By the time the first period ended, we had taken a 2-1 lead, and my troublesome defender played OK. I decided to leave him alone. The second period saw few shots from either team, but at the start of the third, that same defenseman had reverted. I figured I would let him finish the game at defense since we were dominating play.
That was my mistake. I put him in a position to fail. I should have switched him out and put a better defender back there to protect the lead. His poor positioning allowed two breakaways in the last minute of play, one of which turned into a goal in the last minute of play. Those breakaways led to the only two shots we gave up in the third period.
I really blame myself. Kids play like kids play, and it’s my job to maximize their potential. I failed at that today, but it’s a lesson for the future.