Thank You To The Soccer Coach Still Investing In My Life 20 Years Later
Youth and High School coaches give of their time without pay and many times without appreciation from others. I am thankful for one coach who is still investing in my life.
GROWING UP WITHOUT A DAD
My parents divorced when I was just eight years old. I feel like this is a super critical time for a little girl. My momma was amazing at being both mom and dad but there were things she just couldn't do.
She loved signing me up for pageants and dance and I was really good at both. She was always in the front row and it gave me a confidence and drive to want to be better at all things.
Still, I always watched as other girls had their dads and couldn't help but wish I had the very same.
FINDING A LOVE FOR SPORTS AND A GREAT MENTOR
I moved around a ton growing up 13 times before middle school actually. When we finally settled down in Owensboro I was able to get involved in more activities in school. I tried out for cheerleading but didn't make it and wanted to do something with my time so I decided I would go out for girls' soccer.
Now, I had never played soccer before or even watched it for that matter but all my friends were trying out so I went along. I ended up making the JV team and this was the start of a wonderful journey in life. I fell in love with soccer and it became my nitch.
In my sophomore year in high school, we got a new coach. Mike Wilkerson stepped onto the field that summer of 1994 and my life was forever changed. Don't get me wrong it was definitely not a Hallmark moment or anything he was tough as nails, yelled a lot, and could be super scary if you made him mad.
He wasn't your typical coach. His ways of coaching were definitely not practical. Thankfully, I had danced for a super strict coach in years past and I was used to it. I was also used to hard work.
Mike expected a whole lot out of us, probably more than we expected out of ourselves. He made me want to be a better player and a better person.
My momma worked constantly and before I could drive I would often have to find rides home. Mike always made sure I was taken care of. He would keep in contact with my momma. I wasn't a star player or anything he just cared about my well-being and wanted me to be able to play soccer.
Mike taught me about being dependable on and off the field. We didn't miss practice and playing soccer became like a job. It was a job I loved more than life. It gave me security and something to look forward to in life and those girls became my family. Mike became like a dad to me.
He often yelled at me more than other players and expected a lot out of me. It made me work harder. Some days I wanted to choke him and other days I was thankful for the higher expectations.
He taught us all about family and dependability. When it was soccer season we were to be committed to our team as much as we were anything else in our lives. To this day I am a loyal to a fault because of the things I learned in soccer.
GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND BEING A COACH
A lot of coaches move on after their players have graduated. Not Mike, he continued to keep in touch with my family. My mom and his wife, Lynn, were very close and I could often find momma hanging out at their kitchen table or on their front porch.
When my mother had her first aneurysm in 2002, Mike was right there. Momma was in the hospital for three months and I was in college. Our heat got shut off because momma couldn't work and Mike paid the bill to get it turned back on. He visited my momma and he always checked on me and when I lost my momma in 2008 Mike was right by my side through it all.
Mike was so much more than he ever had to be. When I went through my divorce and I had to look for a place for me and my two little boys to live. He picked me up one Satuday and we went house hunting. We found a great house that I raised my boys in for 5 whole years. It is still one of the most special homes to me. Mike would often send encouraging texts to tell me he was proud of me and that my momma would be too. I don't know how he knew but it was always at the perfect time.
Whether it was taking me to lunch or just checking in on me he has stayed invested in my life and the life of my family for 20 plus years now.
Most recently, he invited our family to spend our summer vacation at his condo in Florida. He and Lynn left and let us spend a week by the beach. Who does that?! Mike that's who. He has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. He truly helped to make me the woman I am today. He showed that he cared. He had a funny way of showing it when I was in high school LOL but those stories are for another time (if you know you know!) but none less he went further than the extra mile to make sure I succeeded in life.
I'm not sure where I would be if Mike hadn't invested in my life. If he hadn't expected more of me than I thought I could even give. If he hadn't pushed me to my limit and told me I could do anything. If he wasn't real with me when I needed it most. I am thankful daily that he has been and is still a part of my life. I love that my family gets to know him too.
The world needs more coaches who invest in their players and don't just show up to coach. I am positive the world would be a different place.
I'm not sure Mike will ever read this story but I hope he knows he changed my life. He made me believe I could do anything if I worked hard. He showed me love that he didn't have to and still does.
THANK YOU, MIKE! Go E-GALS Soccer! ALWAYS AN EAGLE FAMILY