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Soccer Poet

The Second Best Email

The Second Best Email

I got an interesting email last week. Well, maybe ‘interesting’ isn’t exactly the right word. Maybe the right word is PHENOMENAL! I can confidently say it’s the second-best email I’ve ever received.

Years ago I wrote Everything Your Coach Never Told You Because You’re a Girl. I wrote it because I wanted to tell the story of this amazing group of overachieving athletes I coached at Embry-Riddle University. I wanted the world to know how determined and courageous and badass they were. I wanted to tell everyone about this team that came together to win more games than they ever had a right to win. I wanted to write about their fierce rivalry with Flagler College. And I hoped that their story would inspire other female athletes to rise up against a societal expectation that seeks to tamp down their competitive fires.

So yes, the book was written to and for females. Says so right there in the title. But some readers thought I should have casted a wider net. They’ve said, through their Amazon reviews, that this book isn’t just for girls – that boys need to read it too. Fair enough. But I never heard that from an actual boy. Plenty of girls have emailed to say they were inspired by reading it, but as for boys, it’s been just crickets. Until last week.

Last week a boy did reach out. He did love the book. It did inspire him. He wanted me to know he got a call up to attend the pool camp for the US National Team. And oh by the way, he’s blind.

Here’s the email:

Dear Coach Blank,
I hope this message reaches you. My name is Cody Kirchner. I am a blind football player for Charlotte Independence, and was recently invited to the first pool camp for the US men's national blind football team.
I have read four of your books so far, and I wanted to reach out and say thank you. I realize your books, especially Everything Your Coach Never Told You, are written toward female players, but the principles you preach about choosing not to be a victim, overcoming low expectations, and dictating how people are going to see and treat you, are all ideas which I have struggled with as a disabled player as well. The crossover is incredible.
So, while you might very well not have even known blind soccer existed when you wrote those ideas, you were writing a fantastic set of books for us blind soccer players, not just for female ones. For that, I wanted to say thank you. I hope I can use your coaching when I compete for a national jersey.

I’ve read this email a half-dozen times now, and I get chills every time. Every. Time.

Cody was right. I didn’t really know that blind soccer existed, at least not at that level. So then it was, Hey, YouTube, me again. Yes, blind soccer is a thing, and at high levels, it’s freaking amazing!

The close control they have… the close control they HAVE to have… is absolutely insane! I don’t know what I was expecting to see, but it wasn’t that. At the same time, I don’t know how I could have expected anything different. They touch the ball with every step on the dribble, because staying literally connected to the ball is the only sure way to know where the ball is. And they shoot. They shoot hard and ON TARGET! And blind goalkeepers make freaking saves! Great ones! How awesome is that!

I was trying to imagine what it would be like for me to try and play with my eyes closed. It would be a freaking disaster on so very many levels. I mean I stub my toe on the bed frame like once a month and sometimes that’s when the lights are still on. Can you imagine going in on a tackle and having no earthly idea what’s coming at you?

I wrote Cody back, thanking him for reaching out. I asked him to let me know how his tryout went. Which is how I ended up with this... the very best, first best email I’ve ever received:

Dear Coach Blank
I hope this finds you well. I reached out a couple weeks ago to say how your books have helped me as a blind soccer player. You said in your kind reply that you wanted to know the outcome. We finished our selection camp on Sunday morning. I got a call from the head coach this morning letting me know I'd made the team.
They especially liked my tenacity. Which I have to in part thank you for. Reading about some of your athletes finding pride in being fearless and ferocious on the field really helped me go into the tackles without hesitation. It helped me get over my fear of being thought of as too hard, because the teammates who thought that wouldn't make the team anyway. I want to say thank you again, for your books, and for the athletes who helped inspire me on this journey. I hope you look up some blind soccer videos. If they are from this camp, I played number 8.
Cody Kirchner

How freaking cool is that!

Ya know, I hope my players from those Embry-Riddle teams find their way to this blog post. I hope they get to see the impact they are having even now, years after their playing careers ended. And I really hope they read the whole thing... all the way to the end… all the way to the PS on Cody’s email:

P.S. I'm a Flagler Graduate. The connection between the colleges amused me.


Happy Thanksgiving! Click here if you'd like to donate to the US Association of Blind Athletes.

If you want to check out the book, just click the pic below.