View from the bench

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

As a high school sophomore I tried out for and made our varsity soccer team.

Normally this wouldn’t be unusual except that our school only had a boy’s team and I was one of the first two females to make the squad.

Our coach was very supportive, but the assistant coach wasn’t our biggest fan.

At a soccer camp the following summer I overheard him telling some of my fellow male teammates that girls didn’t belong on a boy’s team.

Being me I proceeded lose my temper and tell him my teammates had no reason to respect me as a player if the coach didn’t and a few other things.

I’m sure the incident did nothing to gain me favor with him.

I’ll be the first to admit the assistant coach was not my favorite person before this conversation and he dropped to the bottom of the food chain afterwards.

Lo and behold at the end of my junior season the head coach was fired and the assistant coach was named the new top dog.

As the only returning senior on defense and an All-Region player the previous season I fully expected to start. I started the first three games all right, but I started them on the bench.

Instead a freshman that had never played the sport took the field at center fullback.

I had two choices at this point.

I could have quit the team or earned my spot back.

While the first option certainly would have been easier since our personalities were always going to clash and I would never be worthy in my new coach’s eyes, I chose the latter.

It was my senior year, I loved the sport and I was going to play.

That coach and I never did really get along.

There were players I didn’t get along with or who didn’t get along with each other but once we stepped on the field those hard feelings were put aside for the betterment of the team.

By staying on the team I learned an important lesson that has served me well as a working adult:

You’re not always going to like the people you work for or with but quitting isn’t always an option.

Sometimes you have to stay put and work through it.

I’ve had a number of jobs in my life from scooping horse manure to working at an aquatic museum. Some of my superiors were great to work with while others constantly found things I needed to improve on.

Now that I am older and wiser I can look back and see that in some cases they were right.

I continue to use these lessons today and am grateful I stayed on the team.

You only have the chance to play high school sports once and I’m glad I took advantage.

While I still don’t care for that coach today I will be polite on the rare occasions we cross paths.

To this day I disagree with his benching me but it made me a better person and a better player.

Sometimes you just have to reel your temper in and take one for the team.

Heather Odom can be reached at