Arnold and the gang were kicking a soccer ball around on the field when Gerald finally arrived.
"Hey, you made it!" Arnold and Gerald did their secret handshake.
"Sorry I'm late, man," Gerald apologized. "I had some things I needed to take care of. Is everyone here?"
"Looks like it," Arnold turned around and pointed to the group of fourth graders from his class.
"Wow! There are a lot of people trying out for soccer this year."
"I know," replied Arnold. "And once the coach arrives we can get started with the tryouts."
"Hey, is he actually trying out, too?" Gerald pointed.
"Huh?" Arnold turned to look where Gerald's finger was pointing: Lorenzo was sitting at the sidelines. "Oh, no – he just decided to stay here until his mother pics him up for viola lessons."
"Yeah, yeah – enough small talk," butted in Helga. "So where is this guy so we can get going already?"
"Hello, boys and girls!" said a stocky man approaching the group.
"Oh no," said Sid, face-palming.
"You gotta be kidding me…" muttered Gerald.
Arnold looked at the man in confusion. "Coach Wittenberg?"
"Indubitably, Arnold!" replied Coach Wittenberg. "Are you ready to become the greatest soccer team this city has ever known?"
Gerald pulled Arnold aside. "Arnold, we can't have this guy coach our team."
"Why not?" asked Arnold.
"Coach Wittenberg taught my sister's soccer team – he was awful! Timberly's team was the worst in the league. In fact, the reason why I'm late is because I had to take her out for an ice cream sundae to get her mind off losing yet ANOTHER game. You gotta talk to him!"
But before Arnold could do anything, Mr. Simmons had also appeared on the field.
"Hello, children!" said Mr. Simmons. "Sorry I'm late."
"Wait a minute – do we have two soccer coaches?" asked Sid.
"Yeah, Wittenberg said he's the coach this year," Helga pointed her thumb at Coach Wittenberg.
"I'm afraid there must be some sort of mistake," explained Mr. Simmons. "I spoke to the league this year and they specifically said that I was to coach this team."
This time it was Coach Wittenberg's turn to pull Mr. Simmons aside. "Look, pal," he said under his breath. "I kinda need this gig. I just got fired from coaching a team of 6 year-old girls, and my wife Tish will kill me if I come home and tell her I'm unemployed again. Can you just let me have this?"
"Well…I'm sure something could be worked out…" said Mr. Simmons, scratching his head. I'm good friends with the head of the league – perhaps I could put in a good word to sign you in as an assistant coach. It might take a few weeks to get through the red tape, but…"
"Excellent! You're the best!" exclaimed Wittenberg; he slapped Mr. Simmons hard on the back and approached the group of kids. "Attention, children! As hereto and forthwith, I Coach Wittenberg have graciously elected that I share the co-coaching abilities with your Mr. Timmins."
"It's Simmons, actually," corrected Mr. Simmons. And I never said—"
He was abruptly cut off by the shrill blare of Wittenberg's whistle. "All right, let's get to work on some soccer drills, on the double!"
The kids obeyed, and started to run around the perimeter of the field.
"Nice going, football-head," said Helga as she ran beside Arnold.
"This is gonna be a loooooooong season," commented Gerald, running on the other side of Arnold.
Arnold said nothing, merely sighing in exasperation.