Friday, August 20, 2010

Kudos to Coach Dominguez

Yesterday afternoon, exchanging some emails with an old friend from Stetson University, I was hit with a sudden - refreshing - blast from the past. Chuck Flournoy, who must have a much better organized pile of memorabilia than most of us, managed to dig out a few photographs from the 1979 Soccer program.

That's me - I'm sure you can guess - on the cover. Then there's a team photo and a "players to watch for" vignette that's quite complimentary.

The reason Chuck was digging for pictures is an upcoming ceremony designed to honor our coach from that year, Gil Dominguez, for his contributions to Hatter Soccer over several years.

I'm disappointed that I can't be there, but I will be sending some words. Coach Dominguez was a great coach because he never lost sight of the sheer fun of playing soccer. Check out the team photo (farther down), and you can see a collection of severe expressions (that wouldn't include me, by the way!).

I understand that the whole "glare at the camera" posture is a key element in the way a lot of guys attempt to appear manly (no, I've never understood that!). And I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone in the photo was dysfunctionally uptight. But, we did have a few characters who took both the game and themselves way too seriously; buying in, sadly, to the whole "Winning is more important that having fun" thing.

We certainly weren't a winning team! Every year I played at Stetson we lost far more games than we won! But coach Dominguez was well balanced, and he did his best to make sure that we (most of us) enjoyed ourselves regardless. He was extremely encouraging and supportive, and I always knew that he was glad that I enjoyed myself so much.

Those of you who read this space on a regular basis know where I'm coming from. You're aware of my commitment to abundant life and my intention to "Live like I mean it - because God most certainly does."

Bottom line was this: win or lose, soccer was a blast. Or, as the Rowdies would say, "A kick in the grass." Gil Dominguez coached my senior year. Because of him, because of his rock-solid values and his confident approach to a life (and a beautiful family) he obviously enjoyed, I was able to have fun and play fairly well at the same time.

Later, when I was playing for a soccer club in Pensacola, a rival team (from Costa Rica) gave me the nickname "Brazil". It wasn't just because I played well, they said, it was because I played as if I loved the game; they said I played soccer with joy....

I think both England and team USA could have used someone like coach Dominguez at the World Cup earlier this summer. I really didn't get the impression those guys were having a lot of fun!

I certainly did when I played for coach Dominguez. And I'll always be grateful to him for that.

At our banquet that year, when I received the MVP award, coach Dominguez pointed to his young son and said this, "I'd like nothing more than for him to grow up to be just like Derek Maul."

You don't forget something like that. And you don't forget someone like coach Gil Dominguez.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

What a great post! WOW!