Kathy Carter is running for the Presidency fo the United Soccer Association.  It was brought to my attention from a women’s online platform that I am part of.   If Carter won, she would be the first female to ever oversee this organization.  From what I have read, Kathy started playing soccer at 7 and has continued through college and her adult life.  To see a woman at the head of a major sports organization would certainly be a positive direction for the sports world.  She appears to have the chops currently being the President of Soccer United Marketing.

What made me think of this is that when our kids were young, and we lived in the burbs, I ran the soccer division.  I was the only woman coach so overseeing a group of pumped up Dad’s took on another set of issues.  Let’s start out with that these kids were 4-6.

I was a camper and I always loved the competition of the games.  I also played intramural sports in high school, coached kids from elementary school to junior high school while running the back office of the Montgomery County Recreation Department.  We ran a variety of sports for after school activities in over 20 schools from soccer to flag football to basketball.  Most of the coaches were either kids like me or parents.  So I was not new to the management of the sports world.

Overall, the soccer program ran seamlessly but there was one particular game that I coached that still sticks in my mind.  Perhaps after all those years of coaching kids was the reason I was undefeated because I certainly did not have a stacked team.  Emily was 5.  Two men were coaching the opposing team.  There were two kids on their team that they kept yelling at them by shouting their names over and over and over throughout the game.  “Get the ball to the goal, run, run, run, score score”.  My kids were shell-shocked at the tone of these coaches (fathers) voices and so was I.

I went over to the men and asked them to put it in check and that it was not appropriate to yell at these kids like this.  They were not happy with me.  They stopped although it wasn’t easy for them.  In the end, we won the game.  I went over to shake their hands and I was thinking this guy it not going to shake my hand but perhaps he will punch me in the face?  He shook my hand, begrudgingly and barely looked me in the eye. Trust me he was pissed.  Fred was aghast.  He was thinking about smacking those guys around.  I am 100% positive that if I was a male playing against them it would have taken on a very different tone.

So, when I read that Kathy Carter is running for President of the United Soccer Association, my brain immediately went back to the kids days of soccer where I had to deal with unacceptable male egos.  Their behavior certainly makes a direct impact on their sons who are now in their mid to late 20’s.  Teaching young men to respect the other gender on the other side of the table needs to start very young and I can tell you it certainly did not start out on the playing field that day.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Laura Yecies

    Flashback to too many little kid sporting events with ridiculous amounts of adult male ego on the line setting a bad example – sheesh :-(. But to be fair lots of memories with great coaching developing my kids teamwork, perseverence and respect including the high school football coach who had all the boys help clean up thoroughly and write thank you notes to us parents hosting the pre dinner games :-)Given how important sports is to our culture I share your enthusiasm for female leadership!!

  2. meredithcollinz

    I love this so much! So few people have enough courage of their convictions to go over there one time, but that you stayed true to yourself and maintained your humanity and went over again to shake their hands is awesome. Beautiful example for all the kids — and the MEN!

    1. Gotham Gal

      It was a crazy day.

  3. Pranay Srinivasan

    Thats such a telling reflection of real life. great story!

  4. AMT Editorial Staff

    Given our experience with coaches and parents, we don’t think your gender mattered that much. Crazy, overzealous coaches/parents will shout and yell and “joystick” players regardless. It’s built into their psyche. We know a coach that will bench a kid if the parent engages in “sideline coaching.” We think this is brilliant. Let the coach do their job. If you don’t like the coaching, switch teams or clubs. Youngers can’t always process the negativity and it can do damage. Over involved parents can also do damage. We’ve witnessed some really sad behaviours. We think another factor drives the intensity of today’s soccer experience: $$ It is very much a pay to play game at the more competitive levels. A lot of money is spent by families and not just on club fees but on private lessons, camps, training sessions and more. A player will make a national team at 11, but have to cover the travel expense…$$$Bottom line is that those egos are still out there and we think it has likely worsened. But again, less about gender and more about the winning.

  5. jason wright

    this is a very familiar story in England. Football (English) and fathers and frustration is a toxic cocktail. Referees (volunteers) fear for their safety. Things are changing though. Spectators now have to stand 2 to 3 yards away from the touchline, and excessive shouting can result in a game being abandoned and a win being awarded by default.Sunday morning football is even more notorious. That’s when the grown ups play, and its ‘hard’ English working class culture that goes back a long way. Pub teams are the most common. One pub against another. You can imagine how it can get.Hooligan, an Irish family name, but an English footballing state of mind.

  6. TanyaMonteiro

    Bam, you nailed. These habits start early – #respect