For those in the NC soccer community – there is a
soccer forum gossip website…and honestly, some of the funniest, goofiest, albeit sometimes informative, but MOSTLY re-donk-u-lous stuff about anything having to do with soccer. Coaches, clubs, rules, referee’s, you name it, it’s on there.
Two days ago, someone posted this article and I add to put it on my website. It made me cry. I sent it out to friends and family – I personally think that this applies to anything that your kids might do. Gymnastics, swimming, football, and even my friend who competes with her child in scrabble tournaments. ‘Cause it’s really not about “the game”, it’s about that ever so brief moment in time with our kids…..
Farewell to Youth Soccer
Over the years this forum has been a place of laughter, amusement, argument and even some learning. I’ve bashed administrators, coaches, parents and referees – all positions I’ve held or continue to hold in the youth soccer community. I hope this post will be different and will invoke some thoughtfulness on the part of some out there whose children are perhaps just entering the youth & school soccer mechanism or even provide some perspective for those with only a season or two left.
In two weeks my son’s classic soccer experience will come to an end. He has not played one minute of meaningful soccer since shattering his collar bone on August 26, 2009. So I guess you could say his club soccer experience ended last May. He plans to graduate high school early and begin college in January so there will be no U-18 season. His U-17 season and most of his junior year of high school have been lost to surgery and rehab. He bears the scars and the titanium plate that is clearly visible as it snakes along the exposed portion of his clavicle as evidence of the sacrifice he made for the game he so loves to play.
It’s that very injury that has put this whole experience in perspective that was sorely missing. This is a kid that NEVER missed a game. As a young recreation player he wore the bubble wrap over the cast on his wrist so he could play. As the lone goal keeper on his club team I watched him drag himself from bed with the flu, play the full game on a cold, gray, rainy March morning, make a late save to preserve a tie and then ask to stay and watch the next game. This journey from U-5 to U-17 has been one filled with fond memories for our family.
In less than a month that ride will end and a part of my being will end with it. All the families from his club team that have become such a huge part of our lives for the past seven years will drift away and become part of the memories of a bygone time in our lives. And that saddens me.
Reflecting back on the experience I only wish I could have been that parent that could just relax and enjoy the fun of watching him play. For the parents of Goal keepers, you know there’s no such thing as a relaxing game when your child is the keeper! I hope I’ve always been supportive and encouraging. We have never rehashed the games unless he brought it up. “Nice save on that free kick” was usually the extent of our post-game break-down. Generally if the ball was in the net he knew what had happened and didn’t need my analysis. He knew which goals were his “fault” and which were just the result of better play by the striker than he could deal with. He has a perfect demeanor for a goal keeper – he can recall every great save and can allow goals scored to drift off to some short-term memory loss portion of his psyche.
Next month my family will say so long to our “soccer family”. If you’re reading this and you have a child in competitive soccer I hope you can take away a few things from our soccer experience.
• Attend every game! You never know when it might be the last. My son’s first varsity season lasted less than three games. Yard work, office work, house work, any kind of work CAN WAIT! It was so painful to watch him leave the pitch with his arm in a sling. I cannot imagine not having been there when it happened.
• Keep it in perspective. Its kids playing a game. I’ve never held back expressing myself towards poor officiating. I hope I can do better in the future (and I ref, I should do better). The kids absolutely HATE parents that yell at refs – If you ref you know this because the kids will tell you “oh, that’s so and so’s dad, he’s an idiot. Just ignore him.”
• Resist the urge to coach your children during the game. It’s not helpful and much like the parent yelling at the ref the kid’s hate this parent even more. And sometimes it’s your kid that hates you, not just the other kids. I’ve even seen a player tell her dad to “Just shut up. You’re not helpful.” The kid’s know to shoot, pass or clear it! Easier said than done. Relax and enjoy your kids playing.
• Volunteer for the team, your club or your school. For me that’s meant team manager and treasurer, Board member and sometime booster for his high school team. Find a niche that you can be helpful and “Just Do It”. A rewarding experience for your children does not happen without LOTS of parental volunteerism. Something as simple as a cooler full of water bottles on that hot day can make a world of difference. GET INVOLVED.
• Thank your child’s coaches. These men & women dedicate hours of service to our children. Yeah, they get paid but I don’t know a one that does it for the money. They do it for the benefit of your child and a love of the game. Thank them often!
• Be supportive no matter the outcome. My son’s club team has never been very successful in terms of wins & losses. We’ll be the only boy’s team in the club to never attain “Premier Division” status. So what! The kids have been exposed to wonderful coaching and have made life-long friends. It should NEVER be about winning & losing!
• Above all else ENJOY THE JOURNEY. The tedium of long rides to far away tournaments will not last but the memories of your kids playing the beautiful game will. Don’t ruin that joy lamenting the game’s outcome. No one will remember the standings next year anyway. Watch, encourage and ENJOY.
Three days ago my son laced up his boots and pulled on his keeper gloves for the first time since he came crashing to the turf last August 26th. We went to his school stadium and on nearly the exact spot that he came crashing down in a heap we started some simple catching drills.
When some high school teammates showed up and he stepped between the pipes I have to say there was apprehension on my part. The first shot was toward the upper corner to his right – top hand over and he pushes the ball over the bar. Just like he’s done his whole life! It’s a moment I’ll cherish and one I thought I’d never see again.
It all ends too soon. I’ll miss it but I’m thankful for the memories that youth & school soccer have provided for my family. ENJOY!
Good stuff – huh? Here is a sweet picture of Pootie and Crash, along with their buddies, the brothers “D”. Crash and DD were just little guys (5 year olds) and they “played up” this one year, so they could play with their big brothers (7 year olds). It was the neatest thing to watch the four of them together…
This was somewhere in between the years of then and now…..Crash was probably 7ish and Pootie was 9 ish….funny thing about this picture is I can tell you exactly where the picture was taken…. and that’s about it….
And this is Crash at practice
Oh how time flies….hug your children tonight!!!!