Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Proud Coach

Soccer season has officially ended. I am so proud of the way the girls finished the year out. Over the weekend we traveled up to Seoul for our final tournament. Despite a growing collection of team injuries (I am becoming a pro ankle taper), the girls played two of the best games of the season in the tournament and finished the weekend in third place. It was a fun trip filled with lots of laughter, a few tears, and a whole collection of awards: 6 all conference team spots, 5 all tournament spots, top defender award, Most Valuable Player award, coach of the year award (this is the 2nd year in a row Tiece has won this!), and the league sportsmanship award.

I am especially proud of the team for winning the sportsmanship award again. This was the second sportsmanship award win of the season. By receiving the award as a winning team, the honor showed that our first award was not just out of pity. Instead, it reaffirmed that the girls of TCIS really do display remarkable sportsmanship. And they really do. The girls were constantly cheering for each other and for their friends at other schools. I don’t think there was a single school that didn’t have at least one friend on our team. The girls kept a great attitude, played tough (but clean), interacted with other coaches, were friendly with refs (even when calls did not go our way), and treated each other with respect. I was really proud to say I was one of their coaches.

All in all, this was a fantastic season. I am sad to see it end.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2nd Place!!

Today marked the last league game of the 2009 season and the girls pulled off a 1-0 win versus one of the other top spot contenders. This win ended us in SECOND PLACE for the first time in TCIS girls' soccer history! It was a fun win and a great way for our seniors to go out. Now all we have left in our season is our final KAIAC tournament (which our 2nd place ranking should seat us well for).

I can't believe the season is almost over! These girls have such a special place in my heart :) I am really excited to have a bit of time to myself, but not really ready to let these girls go...

Especially the seniors:




Just a couple others:

My 7th Country Since Christmas

I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Beijing for an APAC soccer tournament. It was a great experience where the girls grew as soccer players a lot and had an opportunity to meet players from all over China and Korea. We did not finish the tournament with a winning record, but it was still a valuable experience. The girls enjoyed homestays and the coaches snuck in a brief Great Wall trip and an acrobat show. Plus, both the girls and guys teams walked away with sportsmanship trophies. Overall, APAC was a really neat opportunity.

Check out pictures posted to facebook:

Monday, April 13, 2009


India. I don’t know exactly where to begin. I spent one week at the Beulah Home, an orphanage in Bangalore. At the Beulah Home, about 90 kids live with 6 “aunties,” two dogs, and one baby kitten. In this home, kids praise God with a more genuine joy than I have ever seen. Girls dance with confidence, children care for each other with patience, and all sing at the top of their lungs with faith. I was so touched by the love that these kids shared with each other. I was so drawn to their stories, their immediate embraces, their openness, their tangible love for God, and their contentment with so few material possessions. These kids will forever have a very special place in my heart. It was incredibly difficult to leave them.

Let me introduce a few of the kids who I especially connected with.

Meet “the gang”: (back row) Pretesia, Alem, Bonchai, Wikheng, (front row) Lydia, and Wilam. These were a set of the teenage girls who spent hours and hours telling me their life stories. They educated me on Indian pop trivia, explained many aspects of Indian culture, and shared the struggles they faced as their families sent them to the Beullah Home. Almost all of them told me that their best and worst years involved their move to the Beullah Home. As one girl told me, “my friends are my everything here. When one is missing, there is a hole. When one of us laughs, we all laugh. When one of us cries, we all cry.” I had to encourage them to make each other laugh as I gave final hugs to the set of weeping girls the last morning.

Meet Roma and Chinielle, another two teenage girls who took my poetry tutoring sessions and who shared their stories with me.

Meet Abishek (Abi). This tiny tiny dynamic boy of 5 had huge expressions. I loved his smiles, laughter, and hugs. He was my favorite child to watch sing. He poured his entire heart into his hand motions and gleeful cries.

Meet Alito. This boy is the youngest kid at the orphanage (3 years old), but he has enough personality to make up for his lack of seniority. His stout little body found mischief like a bee to honey. Whether he was shredding flowers and stuffing them in people’s ears, trying to grab expensive cameras, or turning on the orphanage sound system to mutter phrases into the mic during rec times, Alito gravitated towards trouble. Yet somehow this little darling made up for all his mischievous escapades with his cuddly side that emerged between his adventures. His little smirk melted my heart.

Meet Aruna. This sixteen-year-old dreams of becoming an astronaut and brims with stories, scattering like loose marbles on a wooden floor.

Meet Barat. I don’t think Barat said more than one word to me in English all week (“Auntie”), but I felt such a strong bond to this little child. His bright white grin gleamed between dark dimples. His knobby arms locked around my neck and his bony legs made a vise around my waist whenever I saw him. All the while, his face eagerly looked to mine with a bottomless smile. I love love love this child.

Meet Illumina (sp?). This gentle soft-spoken girl was glued to my side the last two days. Every time I sat down, her hand, foot, or head somehow found a way to touch me. Darling.

Finally, meet Rupa. This adorable little one rotated from lap to lap. She seemed to have an innate awareness of the camera. Every time a camera got near her, she smiled a little bigger and struck a pose, her eyes peering straight into the lens. Rupa’s tiny hand was perpetually grasping for others’ warmth and her deep brown eyes whispered stories with an endearing gentleness that completely captivated me.

These are just a few of the children who stamped their faces into my memory and found their way into my heart last week. It always amazes me how deep bonds can grow in just one week. I hope that some day I will be able to see these kids again.