“Hey, Parson,” shouted Edwin Johnson, from is car at the entry to the parson’s driveway.
The parson paused from his decade-and-a-half long attempt to landscape the side of the hill on which he lived. He wiped his soil covered hands on his jeans and walked toward Edwin’s car. “Morning, Edwin. What brings you off the beaten path?”
“Wanted to ask you something; sort of like a favor.”
“Ask away,” the parson replied.
“Look, Parson, my daughter is playing soccer now. She’s in the county league. She’s pretty good at it. I heard over the grapevine that you were once a professional soccer coach. Is that true?”
The parson replied, “Well, I was able to pay a few bills coaching soccer back in the last century.”
“So, some of us parents wanted to ask you if you would come by and take a look at our team. We’re not sure they are getting the best coaching. You could give us a professional opinion.”
The parson paused, mulling over in his mind the best way to answer Edwin’s request. “Edwin,” said the parson, “who’s coaching the team now?”
“A man named Peter Vest,” said Edwin.
“Here’s the deal, Edwin,” the parson replied. “You have Coach Vest give me a call and I’ll consider it.”
“Why does he have to give you a call. He doesn’t know you. I do.”
“He has to give me a call because it’s his team, Edwin.”
“I’ll get back to you, Parson.”
“No, Edwin, I don’t want you to get back to me. Coach Vest is the one who has to get back to me.”
“That’s ridiculous,” said Edwin.
“Could be,” replied the parson. He turned and headed back to the never-ending landscape project.
A few weeks went by. Strangely enough, the parson was again in the front yard, still, he was endeavoring to move forward on the landscaping, when the phone rang.
“Hello,” said the voice, “is this the Parson?”
“Guilty,” the parson replied. “Just don’t give the sheriff this number.”
There was a chuckle followed by, “This is Peter Vest. I understand you talked to Edwin Johnson about the soccer team I’m coaching.”
“That’s not quite right, Coach,” the parson replied. “Edwin talked to me.”
“Either way,” said Peter Vest, “I’d be grateful if you’d come and help me out on a few practices.”
The parson sensed a feeling of confusion in the voice of the coach. He replied, “Coach, how about I come to one of your games or practices and just observe. After that you and I can talk and see if there’s anything I can do to help.”
“That would be fine,” replied the coach.
The parson asked the coach to email him the practice and game schedule.
A week later, the parson sat off to the side of the soccer field as Peter Vest’s team played another team from a neighboring town. The game ended with Coach Vest's team losing 2-1. But it was a good game. It was well played by both teams.
Three days later the parson stood on the sidelines of a practice field and watched Peter Vest coaching the young women. It was a well organized practice. The coach demonstrated a clear understanding of the fundamentals of the game. The parson felt appreciative of the man as he remembered how he’d been challenged, when he was a paid soccer coach, to un-teach bad habits taught by well-meaning but ill-informed coaches of youth.
As he stood watching, a group of parents gathered around the parson with Edwin Johnson obviously the leader.
“What do you think?” asked Edwin.
“What do I think about what?” the parson asked.
“What do you think about Peter’s coaching?” Edwin replied. The others leaned closer.
“Tell me about Peter,” the parson said.
“Well, he’s from a little town about thirty miles north. He used to coach up there. But that was when his two daughters were playing. Now they’re both playing on college teams. So, when we didn’t have any parents who would coach, we called him.”
“Okay,” the parson replied. “Why didn’t any of you parents coach the team?”
“Well, three of the parents actually finished the coaching clinic, but they felt like they couldn’t make the time commitment,” Edwin informed the parson.
“So, none of you were willing to make a sacrifice of a couple of hours a week to coach; and Coach Vest, who has no skin in the game, volunteered to drive sixty miles a practice and who knows how many miles a game to coach your children; and you don’t think he’s doing a good enough job; and you now want me to intervene and tell this father of two collegiate soccer players how to coach the team, when none of you, and three of you have passed the test to get a coaching license, will coach your own children.”
“You’re being a little harsh,” Edwin Johnson interrupted.
“You bet I am,” the parson said. “You all should be ashamed of yourself. And you all should go start an online fundraising drive to raise money to support this man who cares more about the future of your daughters than you do.”
“Parson,” said the lady standing beside Edwin, “we just want what’s best for our daughters.”
The parson pointed toward the field. “See that man out there with the whistle hanging around his neck. That’s what is best for your daughters.”