The easiest answer, of course: I have two daughters of my own, and I coach girls because of them. But there’s a bigger answer, too.
When I was a young husband looking forward to having kids, I wanted girls. I was grateful and excited when our first child—a boy—was born, but I was also afraid he’d turn out just like me…the difficult, strong-willed, challenging me. After all, that would have been an answer to my mom’s prayer: that her kids would have children just like them. (When I found that out, I quoted Scripture to her: “bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse.”)
When my daughters were born (four years apart), I was again grateful and excited. So many people assured me that girls are much easier to raise than boys. I thought the hardest challenge would be learning to braid their hair, and that my biggest fears wouldn’t come until they started dating…in about thirty years!
Then I started learning about things I’d never considered before. Sexting. Cyberbullying. Cutting Date rape. And the big one: human trafficking. My daughters were 10 and 7 when I learned of a young girl kidnapped at her school bus stop and held as a sex slave for 18 years before being rescued. She was 11 when the world collapsed around her. She had two daughters while in captivity. And she’d been snatched less than fifty miles from our home.
I’ve coached my youngest daughter’s soccer teams since she was eight. Over the course of those five seasons I’ve coached nearly sixty girls from 8-13. If you thought getting a daughter through puberty was challenging, just look up some of the statistics for that age range; they’re frightening.
My coaching won’t prevent these girls from being abused. I can’t protect them from the stranger who wants to snatch them as they walk home from school, or from the “nice boy” with roving hands. What I can do, though, is try to build their strength, both emotionally and physically. I can help them run faster and kick harder.
I can value them and show them respect. I can help them find their voice, whether that means calling across the field to a teammate or calling for help when they’re in trouble. Or even if it just means listening to them.
I can encourage and help these girls accomplish what they may never have accomplished before, whether it’s playing a soccer game, scoring a goal, or leading a team.
Why do I coach girls? Because maybe—just maybe—one of them will someday have the strength, courage, voice, and wisdom to rock someone’s world. Or even to change the world.
Go get ’em, girls!