I'm pretty sure Sword Fighting isn't in the rules for Lacrosse
So, I’m a coach.
Well, I volunteer my time as a coach, I should say.
And I coach elementary-school boys at lacrosse.
Well, I coach two of them in the finer arts of being a goalie.
AKA, I tell them to stop the ball and if they get hit, suck it up.
But in the nicest of ways. Without curse words.
So, we’ll start at the beginning. The first day of practice.
Well, like I said, I am one of the coaches for this lacrosse team. Most of the coaches are ages 20-23, and we all went to high school together. The head coach and main assistant are older (they have sons on the team, so early to mid 30’s.)
Now, a little background: This team WAS co-ed. A girls’ team formed for the first time this year, so they finally split them up.
But not before a girl showed up to the first practice. And since I’m a girl, and she’s a girl… we became best friends. (And after that practice I’ve never seen my 10 year old best friend. But that’s beside the point.)
So my new Best Friend instantly comes to my side because, ew, boys have cooties and throughout the practice she is always in my group. Now, most of these kids have never played before so we spent the first practice going over the basics. (The rule for the day: NO HITTING. Gearing them out and showing them how to put it on correctly. How to help prevent injury. How to cradle and scoop the ball up. How to throw and pass.)
And because there are five-seven coaches, we split up the team so every coach had 3-4 kids.
My group includes my Best Friend, and two other younger boys who seem to know each other.
Another background tidbit: This is not my first rodeo coaching. I’ve helped out as a volunteer at the high school and college level as a goalie coach for field hockey. I’ve worked sports camps for both sports with kids of various ages, and I’ve grown up around younger cousins. So, needless to say, I feel quite confident in my ability to communicate with children. (My family says I should be a gym teacher to younger kids, but let’s be real. I’d have them play field hockey every day.)
Back to the story. So, I’ve got Best Friend and these two kids who are just eligible to play, age wise. They gotta be in first or second grade or something. After I introduce myself, (Hi, I’m Woody.) I ask for their names.
One kid screams his name so loud I’m almost positive my eardrum started bleeding.
The other refused to take his mouth guard out, so I got a muffled response. And when asked to remove the mouth guard, I swear he looked like he was about to die from even THINKING about removing that piece of equipment.
Therefore, I’ve knighted him Sir Mouthguard of Lacrosse. And his friend? Screamer. (I do later find out Mouthguard’s name. But as of writing this, Screamer still screeches his name, so I’ve given up.)
So, my trio of pupils have been introduced. I show them how to hold the stick and all that jazz, and they start cradling.
At this point, Best Friend is good to go, so she starts scooping the ball from the ground. Good. Awesome. I love progress. I leave her to her own design and turn back towards the other two kids and they are pushing each other for some reason. It’s whatever, really. Kids are kids. So I separate them and continue teaching.
Then, one of the coaches who went to high school with me comes over and we chat about the kids. How Kid A is going to be awesome this year. Kid B’s weakness and how we can fix it. Etc.
And that’s when I hear it.
The words. The two words that are half-screamed, half-muffled.
My head snaps towards the sound as I already know what’s about to happen. I see little gloved hands unsheathe metal sticks from invisible scabbard at their side. The other coach is observing too and our hands shoot out in slow motion as we watch the two kids land a blow to each other. (Dibs on Mouthguard in a sword fight. He’s got good form. Could come in handy during the Zombie Apocalypse.)
After hearing metal clash against each other, as well as this sickly weird warping sound, words finally leave my mouth.
“NO HITTING!” I manage to yell it, starling the kids. They turn toward me with sticks raised. “SEPARATE. NOW.”
I grab Mouthguard and the other coach grabs Screamer and we force them apart. After the initial shock of two kids stick fighting, we make sure they aren’t, like, dying from being whacked with a stick. Thankfully, both are fine.
I may be awkwardly sarcastic and cynical, but I do care about the kid’s safety.
And that’s the story of the Second Grade Sword fight.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing that happened that practice.
When people say that Castiel isn’t important to Supernatural because he wasn’t on the show from day 1, I like to remember that many TV shows have been greatly improved by cast additions or changes, even though the fans grumbled at first.
MASH is probably my favorite example. People thought the show would die after the loss of Henry Blake and Trapper. But Col. Potter and BJ stepped into the roles and brought so much heart that they became fan favorites and the show was actually much better with their dynamic. Not to mention the swap of Burns to Winchester. Where MAJ Burns was a caricature and pretty much a joke, MAJ Winchester came in and was a fully realized, dynamic, layered character who again made the show all that much better.
How about Woody from Cheers? Who would have ever thought someone could have brought as much heart to the show as Coach? But Woody was perfect, not to mention Rebecca and Frasier, another character so good he got his own show that went on to be #1 for years.
The Walking Dead added Hershel, who became the heart of the show for a few seasons.
Putty and Norm added great comic chops to Seinfeld.
Toph was a great addition to the team that saved the world in Avatar, the Last Airbender. And like Castiel, she stuck around long after Aang knew how to earth bend and it’s good that she did as she definitely improved the show.
Adding more than one female definitely helped Big Bang Theory. It is so much better with the added dynamics of Amy and Bernadette.
I’m sure there are more examples, but those are off the top of my head.
Supernatural is, at it’s core, the story of two brothers. However, their interactions with others is what makes the program interesting. And, to me, the addition of Castiel has saved the show from endless MOTW repetition. He provides extra heart, endless story lines, that special perspective of someone who started with a completely different world view and was so influenced by the Winchesters that his whole life (and that’s saying something for a being around since the big bang) was changed and his character’s growth is just astounding.
Sometimes a side character resonates with the audience in a very special way, and occasionally even more so than the main characters. For me and many others in this fandom, Castiel is one of those cases. And that is why I think SPN is so much better with him in it. I could personally, watch endless stories of his personal growth and understanding of humanity, his internal struggle to become more than just a tool of the garrison, as well as his deepening complex relationship with the Winchesters.