Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Huge Loss

I am writing this with a heavy heart.  My former soccer coach has passed away.  I have known Ralph since I was 9 years old.  He claimed he knew me when I would run up and down the soccer field in a full diaper, but I don't remember those days.  I started playing for him the first year he created the "younger" Cougars.  We picked the name because the team that he coached that was a few years older than us were called the Cougars.

I spent year-round with Ralph and our soccer team.  Most summers we took big trips somewhere for a soccer tournament (sometimes two!).  Without him, I would have never been to Canada or Minnesota.  We also played in the Disney Cup a few times.

Next to my father, he was the biggest male role-model in my life.  He not only taught me about soccer, but he also taught me a whole lot about life.  He also allowed me, and the rest of the team, to develop friendships with girls I would have never met outside of soccer (majority of our team went to all different high schools).  I am so thankful for having had him in my life.

My biggest regret was not calling him enough.  It had been a while since I had last spoken to him.  I kept saying, "Oh, I need to call Ralph, but I will do it tomorrow."  And, well, tomorrow never came until it was too late.  So, if there is one thing I can pass along to everyone reading this CALL PEOPLE.  Let them know you love them, miss them, care about them.  I know Ralph knew all of this, but I wish I had said it more often.  And called more often.

Just some memories I never want to forget about Ralph:
-Making us listen to some talk-show radio every soccer tournament trip.  Except the one time he let Gia, Alana, and I listen to the Dirty Dancing CD and sing to it in the car.
-His made up language he would yell at us in.
-Claiming he had a wooden leg and that is why he limped.
-His yearly trips to "Disney World".  He would never tell us he was actually going to the hospital for some treatments because he didn't want us to worry.  But as you get older (he was my coach from the time I was 9-18) you get smarter.
-Not starting me a few games because I had gotten lazy and started skipping practices.  He also played me less time in those games.  He taught me to work for things and not just expect them.
-Making us run around the "baby-pin" aka the fenced in play ground when we were being poor listeners or whatever we had done.  We never ran as much as he told us to.  I remember when Brittany S. first joined the team, she actually ran around it as many times as he had said and we all looked at her like she was crazy.
-He started this bad habit of getting us slurpees in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter.  Well, we decided we were "entitled" to those things and would go on strike and sit on the fence until he had a parent go get it for us.  I think we eventually outgrew this (maybe our last year with him, haha).  He definitely spoiled us!
-Him meeting Hunter for the first time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful Tiff. I remember all of the things that you mentioned! Thank you for making me smile during this difficult time :)