All knowledge of God is experiential. What you don’t know experientially, you simply don’t know. Related to this: STOP TALKING ABOUT THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW EXPERIENTIALLY
I swear I knew nothing about humanity until I got involved with Mutiny FC. I feel this is a timely post as we are about to have our final Banquet as Mutiny FC next week. I am bit weepy about this, but I know it is the right decision. Mutiny FC is a significant part of our life. In job interviews or talking about my faith story – it centers around my time with Mutiny FC. Here is our story.
Jake and I (funny I say “I” like I was paid staff, but I had a role that made a difference and I say that humbly) got started at Mutiny because we needed extra money and were released from having to coach American football, FINALLY (those hours are awful and someone should protest, I cannot take on all battles. Ha!). Jake also loves soccer! This was a dream for him to do since we got to Texas, but American football did not allow for it. It is funny because Jake was hired and then told to create his teams. We were like – “Ok, I think we can do that”. We were not handed anything. At the time I was frustrated by that, but now I am forever grateful we had to build it. I say “we” because Jake will tell you he needed my help, and I am trying to tell my story not his. It is impossible not to mention him some because he is intertwined with my story. 🙂 Side note: We could have taken on Kimberlyn’s team as the coach abruptly left, but -as I mentioned in the previous post-the culture did not feel right for him to take that on at that point. I am glad we did not.
We had made a few connections through Kimberlyn’s team to get started, and they had friends that were waiting for the age group to become available. Several had siblings in the age group as well and were thrilled to get started with us. I do want to say we received 2 miracles (so maybe we were handed something) with Jennifer Wynn and Amber Slaughter. We knew nothing about club soccer in Texas. Jake’s only experience was in Oklahoma, so we had no idea what we needed to do to register and get started. These 2 amazing women came to us and said they would be the manager for the 2 teams we were starting. Without them, there would be no Mutiny FC story for us.
The journey began really rough because we did not know what level to start with. Jake put the older boys in the Silver bracket and they were not ready for that. As time went on he figured it out. Our managers were solid so we could survive the comings and goings of players as Jake was trying to meet expectations he did not know how to meet yet. Mutiny allowed Jake to get a higher rated (not sure how you say that) coaching license and he also got licensed to coach youth specifically. The training says all of the right things, but we in Texas are not carrying out the youth training that is being taught because of our “winning” syndrome.
We eventually got some pretty amazing teams started. I am going to continue to say we because Jake wants me to. I was developing relationships so we could have a good story to tell versus just any old soccer team you could get anywhere. Eventually our 2 teams turned into 4 teams and Jake had to give up 2 of the teams. That was really hard to do for several reasons: 1) The teams were family 2) A lot of hard work and time was put into creating these teams 3) Having to hand them over to someone we hope would do them justice and continue the story (Boy, did this blow up) 4) Financially it was a hit, but Jake was moved to a Director role so that helped some. But giving up the teams was the right decision, because coaching 4 teams is not good on a family nor can any one team get the attention they need with a coach spread so thin. Jake coached his whole weekend away. You will see this a lot in big clubs and that is why I am here to say Mutiny is a better deal than big club most of the time, but I will be honest Mutiny was not perfect and we had some moments that felt no different than big club. And in some ways I think that is unavoidable.
The teams Jake gave up were eventually lead away from Mutiny by the coaches for various reasons I won’t go into. While we don’t claim any ownership and had to really work on our ego about this, it was still a knife in the heart because that was a story we helped start— plus being in leadership – I think saying that is enough. I also know everyone will tell this story differently based on their perspective. This hurt and we are not going to lie about the pain. We see so many coaches get teams handed to them, and we were building and giving them away. It is hard work, and it taught me a lot about humanity. I faced my own darkness and ego through this.
What I learned at Mutiny was I can tell a story. I don’t mean lies – I mean I can tell the story of what we are doing. When we briefly landed at a big club I saw massive injustice. I knew I could tell a better story because we had a better story. I know all sports have injustice involved and I think we all should take a hard look at it, because it is also telling the story of what is happening in our world. We are all shrugging our shoulders saying “That is how it is” “Nothing we can do about it”. These are clarifying days (as my ministers says) and it is time to reveal this injustice. Here are some things I witnessed:
Some players don’t pay out of their own pocket, but payment still gets made through those on bottom. They are charged more to cover the free players. Big clubs may offer scholarships to work against little clubs who can’t and WON’T offer the same benefit with lower ranked players making up the cost difference. It really is a crime. Let us also talk about guest players. I have no problem with guest players occasionally, but they should be needed and not taking up a paying players time. There was one player who played on 5 different teams (for free) and we could not get time on our 1 team we paid for. Criminal! Guest players don’t practice with the team they are playing with either. Sometimes they come in really interested in the team and do join, which is fine if they are needed in the game, but this is rarely the case. This happens all the time in big club. It literally is hard to develop players in a system like this. It is time to end it.
What I did not know was happening is this was revealing to me the world we actually live in. Small businesses can’t make it with corporations getting all the tax benefits. Some people cannot get through the system because those who shine get all of the resources (and they get called lazy!). It is all related –sports to real life. Our theology of life matters because it plays out in the world. Faith and politics cannot separate, so this took me back to church with a new resolve. Politics means “Our shared life together”. With that definition it reframes the term and how we approach it.
Kimberlyn’s team is one I think about often. There is quite a story to tell that could be a blog post of it’s own (but I won’t). I will briefly tell what happened. They were a Cinderella story that lost the plot once success happened. Big club and big promises factor in as well, but we had to lose the plot to let them in. When they made classic league and winning was a must and our expectations soared beyond where we were, it was over. I kept telling Jake “I miss the struggle”. I don’t like this anymore. I hate the pressure to win because it sucked the joy right out of it. Those on bottom got left out, and that is how it always plays out. I am not blaming the team for losing the plot. It is the air we breathe. The system plays this game and it is hard not to play right along with it. It is so easy to all of the sudden become the system and not even know it. I faced this in myself. It takes disruption to see it.
At this point, I no longer had a story to tell. Two painful events for both of the kids and I could no longer go back. I tried to regroup and try again, but I did not fit in this story anymore. This is why, even though I cry sometimes, I know the merger is the right decision. Jake is still happily involved because this is a world he has fought through his whole life. He is using his life as a different way of being in the soccer world. If he can’t change it, he will be different in the system that tells you it can’t be done. It can. That is what faith does.
This story took me back to church as a different person. I had to find a church that fit my new story because I just wasn’t fitting where I was anymore either. I tried really hard. I still deeply love my previous church. I had to face the dark night of the soul before I could return to church at all. Now I am on the other side of pain and I feel my story is leading me on a new journey. Church has been my saving grace since November 2017. I absolutely love my new journey. I am even considering seminary at some point. I did not even know I could dream that until 2 pastors (male pastors too) told me I would be a good pastor. Say what?! I feel too old to make this change, but apparently this is common –and honestly I had nothing to say until now. God truly has to be experienced. I don’t think we see injustice until it disrupts us experientially also.
My pastor, Pastor George Mason- my spiritual hero, hugged me and told me he was proud of me and sensed the joy in me. I am not lying when I tell you what those words did to me. I literally felt these internal wounds heal. I started breathing differently and my eyes could see more clearly. He also told me “You keep saying “used to hearing”. That is over now. You are free.” This make me wonder “Is this how Jesus healed people?”
I just found this quote by Amena Brown
It is failure that teaches us the dangers of pride and the grace of surrender.
We certainly experienced this statement with our experience at Mutiny.