The tennis great Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” It is a perfect life lesson to be sure, and I wish I had that quote as motto when I was coaching soccer, both for myself and for my kids. But tennis, better than any other sport I know, reliably rewards that mindset.
In all the team sports (and most of life), kids like me struggle with the sensation of being out of place. Putting a team together, in baseball, softball football and soccer almost always results in participants who at least half the time feel inadequate. A few will revel in stardom, and now and again someone like my Romanian team member, a soccer savant, will appear in a league that offers no challenge at all.