BY JEFF FALK
Leslie Kok is living every soccer mom’s dream. Instead of questioning every move a coaching staff makes, Kok has been afforded an opportunity to call her own shots.
Kok recently completed her second season as the New Covenant boys’ soccer team’s head coach. Under her guidance, the Flames went 7-6-1 and qualified for a first District Three Class A playoff spot in their first year as a PIAA-sanctioned school.
But Kok isn’t a tactical wizard, she’s the mother of a player. She initially got involved with the Flames’ program three years ago when her eldest son was a senior.
“Oh sure, I had a lot of reservations,” said Kok. “I’m not the not the most qualified coach because I never played the sport myself. I literally was a soccer mom. They didn’t have anyone to coach the team. I was approached and I did it.
“I have a lot to learn, as far as tactically and some of the basics,” Kok continued. “It’s been a big learning curve for me. I have a younger son who’s an excellent player and he’s made it his work to teach me. If I get stuck, he’s there. And I’ve had some good help from the school.”
But not only is Kok a self-proclaimed ‘soccer mom’ she’s also one of only a few women to have ever coached a boys’ scholastic sport in Lebanon County. Outside of tennis, track and field, swimming and maybe volleyball, boys have traditionally been coached by men locally.
Of course, the same can certainly not be said about men coaching girls’ sports.
“I am really a soccer mom,” said Kok. “The boys are like a big family. I enjoy getting to know each player. I think it’s been a good experience that way.
“When I went to the PIAA District Three coaches’ meeting there was a lot of testosterone flying, and that was something to see,” continued Kok. “But gender doesn’t matter. You’ve got to bring the players together as a team. You can’t play soccer by yourself. It takes 11.”
One might expect the biggest challenge facing Kok was communication. But Kok said she did not experience many difficulties in that area.
“I’m told girls cry and I don’t have that with boys,” said Kok. “But boys can be lewd or off-color. Most of that I ignore. They are boys. And boys will be boys.
“Quite frankly, some women might be better suited for coaching than men,” added Kok. “It’s all pretty much the same. You corral them and keep them from doing anything wrong.”
Instead of being an exception to an old rule, Kok might be on the cusp of a new trend in scholastic sports.
“I think in the future you’ll see more women coaching boys,” said Kok. “Soccer has become a bigger sport and there’s a lot of soccer moms out there. When you follow a kid around you learn some things.”