Posted tagged ‘soccer’

A Letter to My Son

October 22, 2011

Dear Daniel

It’s over. It was a heartbreaking loss in that second playoff round. You had some pretty awesome saves in that game. But it still didn’t lessen the fact that you were hoping for a different outcome for your senior soccer season in high school. Watching you stand at the goal when the buzzer sounded the end of the second ten minute over time, and knowing how you were feeling was the hardest thing I have had to watch since you first started playing the game. And soccer is a game that you have come to love with a passion.

You were just five when we signed you up to play in a 3 on 3 learning league. We commiserated with other parents about having to fit your first game schedule around the Saturday morning Kindergarten Round Up program. You loved the cleats, your coach, your jersey and socks and your team mates. You weren’t too crazy about that first pair of shin guards however. You were very excited about your very first real honest to goodness grass stain. And true to your pre-Kindergarten self, the best part of the 30 minute practice/30 minute game process was the snacks.

The following year we were in the midst of dealing with the massive paperwork process to complete your sister’s international adoption. When we didn’t hear from a coach about the start of your 5 on 5 learning league, I surmised that I might have not sent in the paperwork like I thought I had. I scrambled to find a place for you to play and you ended up on a YMCA team. You were one of two boys and a gaggle of girls. Your coaches loved you and your fierce kick. The entire team loved the game as much as you did. And after your first YMCA practice I got a call from your coach with the other program. Oops. I had sent the paperwork in after all. But, since they were two different programs with two different styles of training, we decided to let you play both of them for a while and let you decide which one you wanted to stay with.

Oy.

We should have known then what your future would hold. You stuck with practices or a game every single night of the week that spring and played for both teams without a single complaint. And you were only six.

From that point on our family life revolved around soccer. Soccer shorts. Soccer cleats. Soccer socks. Soccer jerseys. Soccer shin guards. Outdoor practice. Outdoor games….in the heat, in the rain, in the sleet and in the snow. Indoor practice. Indoor games….at varying times between 5 am and 11:30 pm. Ice packs. Ibuprofen. Heat packs. Ice packs. Athletic wrap. Athletic tape. Bio Freeze. On and on and on.

For the next twelve years.

From a parent stand point, the logistics of this passion of yours has been very frustrating. This was especially true after your sister decided that soccer was her game as well. Carting two of you here and there, using vacation times and vacation money for out of town tournaments, stopping for quick ‘fast food’ meals to and from practice sessions, dealing with stinky, sweat soaked shoes/socks/jerseys locked in our car all weekend, sitting on the sidelines watching practices, sitting on more sidelines watching games, critiquing coaches and referees and keeping our mouths shut – or open – as the situation called for it. Soccer parenting is not for the faint of heart. I don’t think ANY kind of sport parenting is.

And what do your Dad and I want you to take away from all of these years?

Mostly we want you to take away the memories. Memories of team mates that provided you with camaraderie like no other. Memories of times when you succeeded when you thought you couldn’t….and failed when you thought you shouldn’t. Memories of hot summer days when sweat poured from your body and yet you pushed forward. Memories of cold freezing days that energized you even more. And of course….the snacks.

And we also want you to take away respect. Respect for the coaches you have had that have shared their gifts with you. Respect for the coaches you have had that taught you to be the best that you can be. Respect for the coaches that have believed in you and stood up for you. Respect for all of the opponents that challenged you to give it your all. Respect for the team mates that have trusted you….and that you have given your trust.

We hope that you have learned that soccer – like life – is not a ‘blame game.’ That you will not always be able to achieve what you want or expect to – but that there is a certain fulfillment in knowing that you have given it your best shot. That when that buzzer sounds at the end of a game – or a day in your life – you can always say, ‘I did my very best.’ We hope that you have learned that you will need all kinds of people on your ‘team.’ We hope that have learned to value each of them for what they bring to the ‘game.‘ We hope that you have learned that everyone plays a part in your successes and shares in the disappointment of your losses.

We want you to take away a sense of self and self-esteem for what you have accomplished as a player….and as a person. You are someone with skills. You are someone that can be counted on. You are someone that expects the best in others because you know you will be giving the best that you have. You are someone that enjoys a good laugh….and a heart to heart talk.

And we sincerely hope that you find a way to continue with this game that you have grown to love – as a player or as a trainer or as a coach or as an official…..or as a parent. And if that day ever comes, we have some good, solid sideline chairs and an umbrella you can borrow.

We love you, son. You have made us very proud.

Mom and Dad

Guilty….as charged

June 14, 2011

Its coming back for a summer run. I just saw the ad. All new episodes of ‘Toddlers and Tiaras.’ Its not exactly a guilty pleasure but if the television is on, I can’t help but watch it. All those adorable little babies, glitzed and glimmered up with sequins and sparkles and lace and ruffles and make up. And hairspray. LOTS of hair spray.

Can’t help but be sucked into the tales of triumphs and woes as chubby little faces (and knees) prance and dance their way across mini stages in converted hotel meeting rooms. Curled hair pieces swirl around their faces as they shake shoulders and hips (can they really be called ‘hips’ at ages three or four or five?) and bat heavily made up eyelashes – sometimes false ones at that – while very serious judges make notations about ‘personality‘ and ‘stage presence.’

The best part for me though, is watching the moms and the dads. They are occasionally joined by aunties and the grandmas and do most of the actual ‘work.’ They spend hours at second jobs to pay for tiny dresses that cost in the hundreds and thousands of dollars. They spend hours sewing on sequins to add more sparkle, hours making props and set pieces, more hours developing and practicing ‘routines’ or driving their children to professional pageant choreographers, and even more hours curling and spraying and applying makeup and dressing and undressing their babies. They spend weekends in out of town hotels and motels for competitions. And they seem to spend an enormous amount of time cajoling their little princesses through spray tan sessions and make up sessions and dress fittings and boring waits for their turn on stage. They can be seen dancing through the rehearsed routines in the audience, roiling with misery – and anger – if their kid doesn’t perform well, cheering heartily if they do and sometimes just sighing in resignation.

For what?

Enough trophies to fill rooms and tiaras for every day of the week. And chest ribbons that proclaim their child ‘Teeny Tiny Littlest Miss Chockhaven Cheese Cake of Somewhere in the Sticks.’

SO very weird.

MY family would never be involved in something like that. No siree. My princess is almost sixteen and I would LOVE it if she would glitz it up a bit. A little makeup now and then. Curling iron and hairspray? No such luck. She is a sports girl and, like my son, plays soccer. Their lives are all about soccer cleats and the comfort of athletic shorts and sunscreen and water bottles filled with athletic enhancing liquids for replenishment. We have spent hundreds – no… thousands – of dollars on cleats, indoor turf shoes, shin guards, goalie gloves, jerseys, shorts, socks and soccer balls of every size and color over the years. We have driven miles and miles for games and tournaments in every kind of weather you can imagine. We have sliced an insurmountable number of oranges at 5 am because they would be needed at a far away game site at 11:30. We have scolded refs from the side lines and been scolded by refs on the sidelines. We have pondered the intricate processes of removing black mud and green grass stains from white shorts and socks and drying them….sometimes at 2 am in a hotel sink because they ‘forgot’ to pack the spare pair. We have visited countless emergency rooms. We have sought last minute sources for peanuts and protein snacks to hold our athletes until the next meal. We have sought out the best affordable coaches and clubs available in our area. And paid for them.

We have spent weekends in hotels and motels for out of town tournaments. We have shivered and sweat and watched from the sidelines, roiling in misery – and anger – if the team doesn’t perform well, cheering heartily if they do and sometimes just sighing in resignation.

For what?

Enough trophies to cover a dresser top and bookshelf. And tee shirts that proclaim our child the champion of ‘The Catfish Cantaloupe Soccer Tournament of Somewhere in the Sticks.’

So very……not weird?

Thinking back to my daughter’s minute long obsession with horses and the horse competition world (where she won two blue ribbons!)….and her ice skating period…..and her gymnastic period…. I know that there are families that spend similar amounts of money and time with those sports. One step-daughter is just beginning in the dance realm with her twins while the other has been chasing her newly minted teenaged son in the football and baseball circles for years. And he is also dabbling with an electric guitar. A close friend has a daughter who just started a cheerleading ‘career.’ She is going to be in first grade next fall. Another friend just saw her youngest of five sign with a college for a swimming scholarship…..something all of her children did before high school graduation. Another friend has a daughter that has been playing guitar and writing music with an up and coming – really hot – local pop/rock band for 4 or 5 years now. She is fifteen.

Parents want their children to excel in what they love to do. There is nothing wrong with that. We want them to be busy. We want them to have a head start on things. At least that’s what I have observed. We want them to have the very best training they can possibly get for sports…music….dance…..and pageants. But I think its gotten a little crazy. Parents are starting their babies in these things. (Little Kickers had a soccer program for 18 month olds at one time.) And those skills are being developed WAY earlier than they were in my day. And focused on. And driven. Gotta keep all those little kiddos busy doing….something. And why?

These days, you are very lucky if you can get on an area middle school sports team without some sort of prior training or experience. Middle school! And if they want to stay with a varsity sport in high school, it is highly recommended that they continue playing that sport – or training for that sport – in the off season. Most sports, as well as dance and music, require year round training these days. Sometimes I wish we could go back and rethink things a bit. Rethink….childhood.

When I was in elementary school, my first experience with competition was through softball. Each area school had a baseball team with parent coaches. If you were lucky, you could field a team for 4th, 5th AND 6th grade. Each school played the others for two games – one away and one at your home field. Then we started playing at a community field….which was close to a dairy with an ice cream counter. Most teams were allowed ice cream only if they won. When my mom coached our school team, she collected enough money so we would get an ice cream cone regardless. To her, and ultimately us – her team – it was all about having a good time playing the game.

She was very forward thinking….my Mom.

My son started playing soccer when he was four and my daughter, when she was seven. We kind of….evolved…..into the club soccer scene. Going to bigger and better and more expensive is something that my husband and I have been at odds with quite a lot. Many times. We want the same thing for our kids that every parent wants, I think. We want them to have fun. We want them to excel. We want them to have a healthy self esteem. We want them to have friends with common interests. We want them to be healthy. We want them to achieve what they can with the gifts that they have. We want them to know how to deal with success….as well as loss. And it can be so very intense.

But, I would like to think that I’m like my Mom. And I think I have been relatively successful in that. Earlier this year my daughter wrote an essay for her freshman English class. She listed each of her soccer coaches and the things that she learned from them. She said that she had learned to love the game and to play well. She ended her essay with the line…..’my Dad wants me to be the best that I can be and my Mom just wants me to have fun.’ And she is so right.

And that is so very…….not weird.

However, I am pondering the possibility of a reality show – ‘The Soccer Moms of Catfish Cantalope Somewhere in the Sticks.’ It has a certain….ring….to it. And I know we could produce the necessary drama…..and comedy.

That’s just how we Soccer Moms are.

A Screeching Halt

October 1, 2010

Had been planning to write a blog about her soccer playing skills for a couple of days.  About how much fun it was to watch her on the field these days.  About how she is playing on two teams – something we couldn’t even fathom getting through last August….TWO teams – two practice/game schedules AND the high school soccer practice/games schedule for her brother AND the start of the new school year AND a new position for me covering three schools AND her first weeks of high school….all at the same time?  Toss in the fact that we are buying a new house and one would expect teeth gnashing, hair pulling chaos.  But it was all working out.  There were only a couple of conflicts, lots of driving and a relatively calm adjustment period….for all of us. 

And so the planned blog entry was going to be about watching her.  Just watching the sheer joy on her face when she plays on the soccer field.  She is a tiny little thing compared to most of her team mates and the girls they play against.  And she is fast.  And competent.  And confident.

I think it flat out surprises players when she whips the ball around their feet and heads for the goal net.  Surprises them when she is blocked or butted by an opposing player and doesn’t budge.  I know it surprises HER when she kicks the ball with such force that it throws her off her feet and she lands on her fanny in the grass….and the mud.  Once in a while a coach will catch on and ‘double team’ her.  And her team mate, A, who also drives the ball down and has a big foot for kicking.  But then, that just leaves to field open to T….and D….and K…..and S….and M. 

This team is a blast to watch.

Ask anybody.

Even an accidentally kicked ball to the wrist during practice and a mad dash to the ER and a purple cast couldn’t stop my girl.  She just counted her blessings that it was only a bruise to the soft tissue, gamely wrapped her cast in bubble wrap for games and played on. 

For a week.

The purple cast was removed after a week and she gave a sigh of relief and got back on the field.  And that very next game was a wonder to behold.  The opposing coach finally just put his hands on his hips and shouted, “Okay…that’s enough!  You’re playing for US next year!”  Yeah right.  Like THAT’S gonna happen.  Not.

She was on top of her game the next day too.  The weather was cooler and damp for an 11 am game.  The sun was out.  She dribbled and giggled and tripped and scored…twice.   Just after half time she was right back at it.  She got the ball and was driving it straight toward the net…..through the grass….around her opposition…..drew her foot back to kick……and came to a screeching halt.

She collided with the goalie and they were both on the ground in a tangle of legs and cleats and writhing screams. 

It was one of those moments that an athlete’s parents fear.  A ‘lump in the throat be stoic’ kind of moment.  Your child is on the ground and surrounded by coaches and referees and managers.  The lump lessens when their goalie is led limping off the field as people on the sidelines are clapping in relief.  But grows bigger and harder as yours is carried to the sidelines.

We have had to deal with monor injuries before.  Usually the aches and pains are taken care of with an over the counter pain relievers, ice packs, heating pads, gels and wraps.  I am not one that deals with whiners well.  I don’t baby my athlete kids.  They usually get the standard, ‘if you want to be an athlete this is going to happen….suck it up and get on with it’ response.  I know they are in good condition.  I know what to be really worried about.  I check the internet.  Often.

And here was my child wrapped in a bundle of collected blankets, grinning through her tears, trying to ‘suck it up’ as her non playing teammates and parents gathered ’round in concern.  Someone gave her the over the counter tablet to reduce swelling.  Someone else brought yet another blanket for her to sit on.  And the game went on.  Twenty minutes later we were tucked into the truck and on our way to the emergency room.  X-rays, soft cast wrap, prescription for pain meds, crutches and forty five minutes later we were back at the field to watch her other team losing their first game in two years. 

A screeching halt.

But is now not even a week later….and she is running.  Not to the same level that she was last Saturday…..but running.   She is determined to get back into the game this weekend…and there are three of them.  We are following up with our doctor this afternoon so we shall see. 

I have to wonder if this has anything to do with that surprising moment that we caught her coach praying over her?  Quietly….privately…..as she sat in her bundle of blankets in the wet grass on the sidelines…smiling through her tears and trying to ‘suck it up’….surrounded by concerned parents and teammates…..I caught him closing his eyes and quietly praying. 

THAT brought me to a screeching halt. 

Pleasantly.

And now she is running again.

Heh.

The Evolution of a Soccer Mom….finally!

June 5, 2010

Long ago – when they looked like this….

 ……..I was a reluctant ‘Soccer Mom.’  I wasn’t really ‘into’ the sporting world any more.  But I dutifully drove them to practices and games and tournaments.  I washed uniforms and stressed about grass stains and mud stains and the safety of cleats and headers.  I dutifully dealt with smelly shoes and smelly socks and smelly jerseys.  I dutifully provided the oranges slices and the juice boxes and the snacks when it was our turn.  I dutifully sat in the sun/rain/snow on the sidelines and rooted for goals and corner kicks and all of the ‘assists.’  I dutifully insisted on fair play and good sportsmanship and demanded that my children always listen to – and respect – their coach.  And I dutifully pretended that I understood and could actually SEE an ‘off sides’ call.  Heh.

Fortunately we have been blessed with good coaches who demanded the same sportsmanship and respect from all of their players…most of the time.  And that was a good thing because I……was a reluctant soccer mom.

Soccer is a year ’round sport it seems.  Fall season.  Indoor seasons.  Spring season.  Summer training/camp season. 

I was a seriously reluctant Soccer Mom. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I was very proud of my children.  Very proud of their interests.  I supported what they wanted to do.  However, I would rather have had them obsessed with something in the fine arts…..painting or drawing or dance or  instrumental music or drama.  Something that I had a vested interest in.

This spring, however, I have been enjoying watching my children play.  I mean REALLY enjoying watching them.  This is our 12th spring of soccer clubs.  I don’t think I have ever been involved in ANYthing ‘organized’ for 12 years. 

Seriously.

 But this spring – for some reason – their games seem more….exciting….and I don’t want to miss one of them.

I get to see them like this……

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 …..and it makes it all from all of those years seem worth while.  To see your teenagers pounding down the length of grass – working WITH others  – skilled and dedicated to doing their very best……makes it all worth while.  All the moves and the grooves and the kicks and the stops…… the fluid sprints and powerful strength seems….awesome.  Its been fun to see them work through their mastered plays and  frustrations and ……joy…. in doing something satisfying to them.  Its fun to see their excitement and satisfaction and enthusiasm when another team member achieves something they have been working on.

I am a Soccer Mom.

An enthusiastic Soccer Mom.  At last.

I am also dismayed.

This weekend is the last of the spring season games and you know what?  I can’t wait for the next round of games and practices and tournaments to begin. 

Seriously.

Now if I could just get them to pick up their own stuff once in a while…..or maybe clean their rooms???

Bullies

September 26, 2009

     Every once in a while something pops up in my life that I seriously regret.  Some memory of something that makes me feel like I made a wrong choice.  A baaaad decision.  And I begin to think about the long range consequences.   And what kind of an effect that decision will have.

     I have been told that I think too much.

     The Prince has been playing soccer since he was five.  That’s 10 years now of soccer skills and listening to coaches and plying his team working skills with other kids his own age.  And he is very good at what he does.  He has superb skills.  He has leadership ability.  He knows how to be part of a team and how to carry his own.  He can make others listen to him most of the time.  The problem is, he doesn’t believe that about himself.  And that attitude all comes down to a bully situation.  I think. 

     When the Prince was going into third grade, we made the decision not to have him move from the recreational league to the travel league with most of his team.  The travel team league would mean year round practices and games, farther out of town games and tournaments and more intensive coaching.  We felt that the year round, intense sport situation would conflict with his academics at school.  We wanted him to still have fun with the game but  be able to become serious about reading and homework and projects.  It was a parental decision.

     While I don’t regret that decision, I seriously regret the place that it plunked my child.  From that moment on – with that club – team selection became a very political issue. There was such a large group of the Prince’s age that wanted to play, that there would always be two teams.  An ‘A’ team and a ‘B’ team.  A ‘white’ team and a ‘green’ team.   A ‘select’ team and – because they didn’t want the two teams playing against one another – a ‘rec’ team.  In spite of his skills and his heart, the Prince was generally relegated to the rec team after tryouts.  Because he missed a year of travel soccer back before third grade.  Political.  And that’s not a biased parent talking.  If I had my druthers, my kids would be in drama….or art…..or music.  Seriously.

     Unfortunately most of the boys who were in his class of peers in elementary school were on the ‘other’ team.  There was one that was particularly vocal about the Prince not being good enough for the ‘real’ team.   His teasing was picked up by others and we told the Prince to just laugh it off.  It wasn’t true, after all.  He knew that.  We knew that.  That was all that mattered.  besides, I knew their Moms.  Talking to them might make other things more difficult so it was better let sleeping dogs lie.  Right?

     Fifth grade.  Sixth grade.  Seventh grade.

     Tough times anyway.  Times made tougher by the ‘friends’ that continued to tease.  Continued to….torment….albeit in a ‘friendly’ way.    The circle became even bigger when he moved to middle school and there were more from the real team there.  Most of his team mates attended other middle school in the district.  We tried to talk him into making new friends…and he did…. but their interests were not soccer.  Which he is what he loved.  And besides, the others in that group had been his ‘friends’ since Kindergarten.  He liked them.

     During this time the Princess had been exploring other sports but was recruited by another club that was teaching her some excellent soccer skills.  We asked Prince to change soccer clubs so he would be working with hers but he chose to stay where he was.  He liked his coach and he liked his team mates.  Even if they weren’t ‘good enough’ for the real team.  Finally he decided to switch. For the training.

     Then the mantra with his circle became his need to switch to another club because he was too chicken to continue on the ‘not real’ team.  Again, we told him to just let it roll.  He would have to learn  how to deal with trash talk sometime, right?  He knew he was getting better training.   He knew his skills would be better.  That’s what mattered.

     In eighth grade – blessed be – another student from his school joined the outside soccer club.    So did his sister.  We parents swapped driving duties.  The kids became good friends. 

     One day, my new friend and driving buddy approached me about the teasing that was going on among the boys.  She asked me if I knew what was being said to our sons at school.  Every day.  Multiple times.  I nodded when she told me.  Nothing different than the Prince had been told before.  Nothing different than I had heard for four years. 

     Then she said something that put my son’s anguish into perspective.  Eight members of that ‘real’ team were in their circle of  friends.  If three of them (and it was usually more)  made a daily comment to our sons about ‘not being good enough’,  then they were being told three times – EVERY day – that they were not good soccer players.  Didn’t I wonder what kind of effect it  had on my son’s self esteem?

Whoa.

No.  I never really did.

Thinking I was giving my child the tools to deal with the outside world, I was forcing him to take constant hits….against his abilities, against his dedication to do well, against his talent, against his self esteem.  Multiple hits…on a daily basis.

I truly did my son wrong.

And he is still paying for it.

He  remains  friends with most of those boys from the bullying years.  That’s a good thing.  Some of them even play on his high school team.  Others have gravitated to other sports. 

I admire my son’s  ability to forgive,  his talent and his dedication to a sport that he truly loves.  I especially admire his courage.

I just wish he did.

Maybe

September 24, 2009

MVC-004SMaybe its because I still look out on a soccer field and just see kids running back and forth – enjoying themselves  and their sport…pushing themselves to the limit for the pure enjoyment of playing together.  Who cares about the game and the rules and the plays??  I mean, the boy has ONLY been playing the game for eleven years and  I JUST figured out the off sides rule last spring.

Maybe its because I have a hearing loss and am generally oblivious to the calls of the refs….and the taunts of players themselves.  I enjoy watching the expressions of the players.  Determined.  Focused.  Daring. 

Maybe its because I am a Teacher and deal with children learning and modeling behavier on an every day basis.

Maybe its because the Prince has had a rocky start as a soccer referee based totally on this particular fear.  

Parents.

And adult spectators.

Please.  I can get as enthusisatic as the next parent.  I can scream and holler and clap and cheer along with the best of them.  My kids are relatively good at the game.  And its fun to watch them play.  Its exciting. 

I know that I complain alot.  The early morning or late evening or far away games are a pain.  The cold and the wet and the heat are uncomfortable at their worst.  Injuries have become more frequent as they learn to kick harder – and more accurately – at each age level.  Goodness knows the cost has changed over the years.  Costs for coaching and camps and equipment.  But not the game.  The game has stayed the same. 

Watching little kids trip over themselves as they learn to get their bearings on a smaller soccer field is a hoot.  Catching pre-teens as they dance along the burbling limits of energy on a grassy field, squirt each other with orange slices that you paid dearly for and gobble down expected snacks after each game is a pleasure.  Enjoying the fluid motions of your teenagers as they come into their own in a sport that has become like second nature to them is pure heaven.  But that’s the beauty of the sporting world.

Something not so beautiful  happened last night.

I was sitting in the middle school bleachers with a friend whose child was sitting on the bench of the opposite team.  Our children were teammates with another club for two years.  It has been almost as long since we have seen each other.  What a nice surprise.  What fun to casually watch the game and talk about our kids and how things have been going for them since we last talked.  I was sharing the fact that we loved the new club.  That my child had made some good friends.  That the team had a real ‘family’ feel to it.   That they were a considerate and happy group of families.

Maybe I missed a few rough calls during our conversation.  I noticed that there had been some rather loud cheering after a goal.  I even clapped myself as MY child had been a part of that goal.  My friend had to leave for a bit but assured me she would be back at the end of the game so our kids would have some time off the field to chat before going home.  I was content in the bleachers – watching the game and waiting for my friend.  The next thing I knew the opposing coach turned around and told parents in the bleachers to quiet down or they would be asked to go to the other side of the field behind our team. 

What?  So now I am sitting with stunned adults who were used to cheering.  The next goal, they literally screamed…and stamped their feet on the aluminum bleachers….and whistled…..and cheered.  I was sharing the score with my husband on the phone at half time when our manager approached the bleachers.  Our parents were instructed to move off the bleachers behind the opposing team to the other side of the field for the rest of the game.  Disgruntled, they did as they were told.

Now, I was in a quandry.  I was waiting for my friend to return.  I hadn’t been yelling during the game.  I decided to stay put…along with another parent…..who eventually got up and moved to join our parent group a little later.   More goals…more calls….and the din from across the field was even louder and more….determined?   So I moved as well….off the bleachers….with a rueful smile at the small group of parents from the other team.  I stood at the fence surrounding the field.  And watched the rest of the game.   Watched my child and her friends.  Running, shooting, bumping…determination filling their faces.  All the while contemplating – and worrying – how my little ‘stance’ would be interpreted by the parents who had moved across the field. 

My child and her team mates won the game.  They lined up in the center of the field – as is the customary show of sportsmanship – to high five and hand shake the hands of their opponents.  I was so proud to see all of  our girls  race toward the bench to high five a player who had been injured as well.  Good sports.  GREAT players.  Short meeting with their coach and mine headed across the field to me…and to talk to the old friend.  As we headed back to the car, a mom from the bleachers stopped me to compliment the players on our team – and particularly my child – for their ‘talent.’   Said they played a very good game.

Now, I am not one to really listen about what players choose to say to one another on the field.  My children know that we expect them to be good sports in a game.  We expect them to treat other players with the same consideration they would anticipate for themselves.  We expect them to always listen to and respect their coach.  Luckily for us, their coaches have always been deserving of that respect.   My only interest in after the game talk is if they enjoyed playing.  If not, we talk about why.   My husband handles the logistics of the game…..all the whys and the wherefores of each referee call….all the moves and the plays.   That’s their thing with him.  I could care less.

I think that’s why the incident on the benches is so very troubling to me.  Why should a coach have to tell a team to ‘not pay attention’ to their parents??  Why would people who are paying for their children to learn and enjoy a sport choose to go beyond what they would expect from their own children?   Its troubling.

Maybe I missed something while I was talking to my friend.  I hope so because for me…..it’s still about the tripping  over the ball and the orange slice wars and the fluidity of teenage confidence and motion.  I am pretty passive when it comes to sports….especially kid sports.  Its all about having a good time.  I just don’t get the rage that causes conflict  there.

Its just a game after all.

Enjoy it for what it is.

Right?

A Soccer Mom Tale

May 25, 2009

Once upon a time when they looked like this….MVC-221F

soccer girl

 

 

 

 

 

and this…….

 being a soccer mom entailed having them at practice once a week in a clean generic uniform with the correctly sized ball, a bottle of water and an occasional bag of sliced oranges or end of the game snacks to share.  You didn’t mind because there were others and watching them stumble and get right back up was fun.  They loved it too.

They still love it.

But along came soccer shoes that were NOT part of a $9.95 package that included a brand new ball and orange practice cones.  Shoes that seemed to be out grown by mid season.  Several times.

And there are club fees, coaching fees, tournament fees, travel expenditures, coach travel expenditures (split with the rest of the team each time) and gas to and from multiweekly practices and games.  Lots of games.

And indoor soccer fees because soccer is not your average seasonal sport.  In our state, there is a fall session, three indoor winter sessions, a spring session and summer soccer camp (to stay in condition).

And bigger soccer balls with bigger price tags.

And uniform ‘kits’ that include a pair of socks, 2 pair of shorts, and a home and away jersey.  To this you have to add extra socks, shin guards, athletic tape (to hold the shin guards in place), equipment bags, practice tee shirts, athletic pants (for those slushy practices/games) hoodies, jackets, sweat bands, extra socks, etc.

And water bottles, sport drink bottles, water coolers, and more water bottles.

And time.  Time spent shuttling your players here and there.  Time  spent washing uniforms stained with grass, mud, rain and occasionally blood.  Time spent cringing and holding your breath as another player (always heavier , taller and bigger than your kid) barrels down the field with cleats on their feet toward your soccer loving child.  Time worrying about an injured player and being thankful that it’s not your child being carried off to an ambulance.  Time spent bandaging, ice packing, compress warming, massaging and soothing. Time spent cheering and clapping and hollering and analyzing and praising and placating and easing a loss.  LOTS of time.

But then you see a smile like this….P1020407 - Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this……..P1020479

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this……P1020481

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this…….

P1020485

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and it sort of makes it all worth while. 

Sort of.

And then you have to get back to the business of soothing and easing because the OTHER one missed out on HIS tournament weekend due to an injury (remember that mental picture of the bigger/taller/heavier player barreling down on your child….with cleats?)  A kick in the shin during a game and aggravated during a practice scrimmage three days later resulted in shin splints. Ouch.

But there is always next year……….so are we ready???

Uh oneah and a twoah and a threeah….

    WEeeee are the Chaaamppppions……”