Megan has been playing soccer since she was 5 years old. Tonight at soccer was probably her toughest game to play. Why you ask? Because it was their last game with their coach, Ken Reis. Ken has been coaching the Burnsville Bandits team for the past four years and has coached in Burnsville for 40 years. Some of these girls (Megan included) were only 12 years old when they began playing for Ken. He has watched them grow, helped them grow, and brought this team to a level of play that even they didn’t know they were capable of. At his speech tonight, he started off by telling us that his goal four years ago, was to get this team some confidence. They are wonderful girls who just want to play soccer for the fun of it. Ken loved this about them, but they also didn’t have the “drive” in them to win games…and they didn’t care. Ken took over and made them care and made them into the proud team they are today. They went from a C3 team to a C2 team and showed us that they can compete. They are a great team to watch and they have fun playing, while trying their best to win. They found trust in Ken and go out and play each game for him. He has also taught them to be respectful on and off the field. That is what a great coach can do for a group of girls. Ken always tells them, “I don’t care if we win or lose, I just want you to play hard.” That has always been his motto and he gives praise to them even if they lose, as long as they gave it their all. We as parents, love that about him.
At his going away party, the girls and parents, all signed a soccer ball picture that will be framed and taken with him to Georgia. We don’t want him to forget us. He was very choked up and said he will never, ever forget this team.
At the end of every soccer season, we have a party and Ken always reads a poem that he has written about the entire season. It has humor as well as seriousness and we all look forward to hearing it. Tonight’s poem was tough to listen to and even tougher for Ken to read without stopping, wiping some tears and sipping on some water. There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere in the room. Just writing my blog tonight is bringing back tears. It was a wonderful tribute to our team and the past four years. Oh Ken, you should be a poet and have these published.
After the poem, Ken has each girl come up and he will say something about their style of play, what he enjoys about them and how they’ve improved throughout the year. This was even harder to listen to than the poem. Each girl came up crying, then hugged him, had their picture taken, and then listened to Ken say nice things…which started them crying again. It was emotionally draining for everyone! But we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It’s tradition~
In the end, we all enjoyed some cake as we said our final goodbyes and wished Ken the best and much happiness in Georgia. We all know he’ll quickly find another soccer team to coach. He can’t stay away from a soccer field for long. We also know he has a thirteen year old granddaughter in Georgia. Guess what sport she plays? yep, soccer. So he’ll be fine.
Goodbye Ken. Our soccer season won’t be the same without you. We already miss you~