I had the brilliant idea to let the kids do soccer this Spring. It’ll be cheap! I said to my husband. It was not, btw, cheap once I purchased all the gear and paid registration for all four of my children. We have never done a sport. The kids don’t do school sports, there isn’t a rec place for the kids to play at around here, so couple that with a relatively short season and the fact that Noah is 14 and starting High School in August. We committed to soccer.
I loved it! I loved having all four of them at three different levels giving this brand new thing a go. I loved the family time we got out in the grass on the sidelines cheering for each other. I loved meeting new people and getting to see the inside of this thing called soccer. I also found the game itself to be interesting.
So, what did we learn?
Henry (U5) is four and was just old enough to play this season. He learned that soccer practice and games are looonng and if you stick around until the end, they give you snacks and a capri sun. “Will Soccer for Snacks” was his motto. Positivity was the name of the game at this age! Good job, buddy! High five! You can do it! He had fun and I hope he wants to do it next year when he is a little older and more developmentally ready to play. He got to play with his cousin Mia, so that was fun to see them twice a week as well.
Lorelei (U8) is seven and soccer is most definitely not for her. She was the most excited about taking a break. She would give me a big smile as the game started and say, “coach said I could stay out first!” She played, but she is slow to react and she also says that soccer has too much running. We learned a bit about perseverance and being a part of a team and I got to read my book during some of her games.
Nora and Noah (U13) were on the same team. Nora is eleven and Noah is 14, which is the cutoff for rec teams. This was serious soccer. It’s the last level before you have to try out for teams, so some of these kids have been playing for years. You could tell right away that they had a pretty awesome team. They only lost one game the whole season de to the best player being on a camping trip. I really loved watching their games and they played on the biggest field, so they got in a ton of cardio. There was a point in the beginning that Noah wanted to quit, which is totally what he does. He complained that the kids weren’t letting him play or listening to him (leader not follower over here…), so we had a come-to-jesus meeting and I told him flat out that we were IN IT. We had committed and there was no turning back no matter how terrible it was. I didn’t care if he stood on the field and stared at the sky, we would be doing practice twice a week and games on Saturdays. Then we talked about what he could do to improve, how he could interact with people and be a team player. I’m happy to say that he got on board and enjoyed it, but I’m doubtful that he will continue.
Once Nora joined (there was a miscommunication, so they put her on late) and showed him how to get in there and just play and do your best, he got better. She, however, was on a team of all boys. In this small of a town, they don’t have enough players to split by gender, so they play on co-ed teams. She grew a lot over the season. She was tough, she had to put up with some trash talk (a lot from her brother) and at one point mid-season, she wanted to quit. However, she needed empathy, not tough love. I listened to her rant and cry and tell me all about these stupid boys who wouldn’t pass her the ball and why was she even here?? Then, I could remind her gently that when they pass it to her she misses it or starts heading towards the wrong goal. What could she do to improve? She got back out there, focused a bit more and, though not the best player, got the ball a few times and pulled her weight.
By seasons end we were pretty done. Not because the soccer schedule itself was so difficult, but because after the last game before post season everything else in our lives picked up; graduation, new job, end of school year etc. However, Noah and Nora’s team kept going! It being the highest level of rec, their postseason tournament became pretty important. They just kept winning, so at that point we were just along for the ride. We had a game last Saturday, that we won which meant a game Sunday. The final, final game, that’s definitely-might be-final, possibly. I told people, “this is the last game” multiple times, but guess what? Sunday WAS the final game! And they won!!
It was two great final games that weekend. You could really tell that the team learned how to play well together and had developed a camaraderie which was great to be a part of especially as our introduction to soccer. After the game on Sunday, they handed out cool, legit trophies and everyone went to DQ. Small town livin’.
At that last game I talked to the president of the soccer club and plan to get involved with the board. It was a rough year administratively, so I’m hoping to help out in that area. I found out that there is a fall rec team as well. Henry may play and if I’m brave, I may coach. It may be too much to work full time and do school and coach, so we’ll see. I’m really glad we gave soccer a try this season. It definitely brought us together as a family and we all got some exercise.