How a Slap to the Face Taught an Important Lesson About Being a Mentor

It’s not enough to know right from wrong, you also have learn how to be heard

Walter Rhein
Thirty over Fifty
Published in
7 min readJun 12, 2024

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Image by Walter Rhein

During the 12 and under soccer game, and in full view of the parents, Lindsay turned and slapped her opponent in the face. I went into stress mode. Would I have to rush out to stop some enraged parent from charging the field?

The thing I’ve noticed in my two years of watching youth soccer games is that most of the parents are only there for a participation award. They sit in their lawn chairs and clutch their devices, and every now and then they take a picture for social media.

They only see what they want to see. They’re not engaged. They’ll notice an act of retaliation, but they’re completely oblivious to anything that came before. That was the case with Lindsay and her slap.

I’d been watching. I knew that the Lindsay had only acted to protect herself. I also knew that wouldn’t matter.

Referees have to control the game

Those of us who had seen the altercation, waited for the referee to blow his whistle. But they were on the other side of the field facing Lindsay’s back. There was no whistle, the game went on.

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Walter Rhein
Thirty over Fifty

I have 10+ years experience as a certified English and Physics teacher. 20+ years of experience as an editor, journalist, blogger and novelist.