Getting a kick from vacation

By Staff
Kim West
Having medical insurance is definitely the best perk of working full time, but having vacation time is a close second.
Last summer was the first time in four years that I didn't work at my college coach's youth soccer camp because I had just started this job and couldn't take off a week. A few months ago, my coach emailed to find out if I was coming this year, and luckily I had enough vacation days and no one else had requested off the first week of June.
Today is my final day of vacation and probably the last time I will be in Tuscaloosa until football season starts. It's also the last day of camp – I had forgotten how rewarding it is to teach little kids how to play soccer and watch them get excited about everything from leading the line to the water cooler to the pure joy on their sweaty, sunscreen-streaked faces when they score a goal.
I won't miss the nearly 100-degree heat or constant humidity, but I've really enjoyed chatting about soccer with the other camp coaches and volunteers and getting to know my group, nicknamed the "Mighty Mites," which consists of 13 kids ages 5 and 6, plus a coach named Matt who somehow simultaneously completed an MBA, a master's degree in finance and a law degree at the University of Alabama last month.
Besides the tantrums, tears and a fascination with collecting dead beetles in their water cups, these kids have been a lot of fun to be around. Matt and I have tried not to play favorites, but secretly mine are a toss-up between Reagan, the blue-eyed, bespectacled daughter of my coach, tousle-headed Theo, a jolly, quick-witted kid who plays his heart out, and blonde twins Kate and Caroline, two of the best players in our group and the most well-behaved 6-year-olds I've ever met.
It took me the better part of Monday to get their names right, and I probably won't remember every name a few weeks from now. But I know won't forget what it felt like when Brendan, the best player in the group, gave Brady, one of the smallest kids, a bear hug and an "I love you" while they were waiting their turns during a dribbling drill. I'm already looking forward to coming back next summer.

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