Why I Coach Soccer.

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Left to Right: Kelsey Fenix, Associate Head Coach; Alyssa Telang, Volunteer Assistant Coach; and Head Coach, Kevin O’Brien

Why I coach soccer.
By: Kelsey Fenix, Lipscomb Women’s Soccer Associate Head Coach

The spring after my final collegiate soccer season at The University of Kentucky, I was driving home from coaching my club soccer team. After years of studying and months of preparing to apply to Physician Assistant schools, I knew that a curve ball was coming at me. On the road that evening, I started to realize something significant: coaching is influence.

Billy Graham once said,

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Graham’s words began to make sense to me on that cool spring night.

I was coaching a team of 15 and 16 year old girls who listened to every word I said, whether it was about soccer or life. I wondered why these girls trusted me and how I arrived at a place of such influence. I found the answer in a soccer ball. I could play and teach soccer, which gave me a door into their lives.

I was amazed that less than a year and a half earlier, Jesus showed me the truth of the gospel. He showed me the desperate state of my heart and saved me from myself and I began to intentionally follow him. I had spent nineteen years of chasing after things that, ultimately, did not satisfy and did not give me the love and affirmation for which I was looking. I was empty. I was lost. It was exhausting. Jesus reached down and wrecked me with His grace. He filled me with a joy that I had never even come close to. He melted my heart to actually see & serve the people around me and to realize that life isn’t all about me.

Rewind back to my car ride home from practice. I slowly realized then that I wasn’t going to PA school. Soccer is a gift. God gave me that ability to compete at a high level and he gave me the passion to want to teach the game to others. I fought coaching at first, thinking I was supposed to go into the medical field. However, I knew in my soul I was made to coach.

I don’t want to be a good coach. I want to be a great coach.

I don’t want a good soccer program. I want a great soccer program.

I want to coach with integrity, humility, and grace. Things that seem contrary to the world’s definition of success & competition.

I wonder what it would look like if college soccer players were no longer motivated by fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of what others will think. What if they were motivated by something completely upside down? I dream of what it would look like for players to be motivated by grace. High standards. Competing hard. Failing hard. And a lot of grace.

If I’m being honest, I still don’t know how to carry out my vision for coaching. I fail more than I want to admit. There is freedom as I’m brought to a place of humility and I am reminded that this has nothing to do with what I say or do.

Coaching has everything to do with the way The Lord uses relationships to change the world.

After all, that’s what the Lord desires with us: relationship. So he uses us as agents of grace to show people who He is by the way we love, by the way we live with integrity, by the way we fight for reconciliation, by the way we fail, by the way we forgive, by the way we live authentically, and even by the way we coach.

———————

Kelsey Fenix is the Associate Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Lipscomb University.  The team this season went 12-4-4, and finished the season playing for the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship.  More than the team’s success on the field, Kelsey and the women’s soccer staff would tell you, it was the relationships off the field as a team that made this season so special.

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