Monday, August 16, 2010

Slap A Brightly Colored Bumper Sticker On My Car And Call Me Soccer Mom

The General and I very early on in our role as parents (even before babies were even in our life, actually) mutually agreed upon one major point of having children: we were not going to allow them to participate in organized sports at an early age. The reason for this was multi-faceted, primarily boiling down to the following two questions:
  1. Is there a valid point to 15 preschool aged children running around with no real knowledge or understanding of the sport in which they're attempting to play?
  2. Do we want to spend hours of our already limited precious family time running from practice to practice, game to game for weeks on end?
It was a rule we set for ourselves and held onto firmly. Then Shortcake enrolled in school and quickly realized what I already knew: everyone and their brother participate in the local soccer club, especially between the ages of 3-5 years. Once this revelation was made, her frequent pleas meant I was barely able to push back enrollment in this league for the spring season. The General and I finally decided together (mostly) to cave to the pressure put forth by our desperate for socialization oldest daughter and agreed to let her play in the fall.

Most of you know Shortcake's disposition but for those of you who don't, in three words I would define by daughter as sweet, compassionate, and rule oriented. Not surprisingly, these three adjectives also define her personality on the field as well. It became immediately evident that this gentle natured, loving girl possesses not an ounce of killer instinct on or off the field. Children would run toward her in a drill to steal the ball and she would stop mid-step to allow them to take the ball from her. While in the middle of a herd of players fighting for possession of the ball, she would halt suddenly with a worried look on her face if any of the players tripped and fell. During a mid-practice break during one of the hottest days of the summer she was more concerned with her friend's lack of a water bottle than her own hydration. I announced to The General following practice one night that she might not be an excellent soccer play, but she'd make a damn fine team mother.

Because of our reluctance to allow her to play before this year, she's also noticeably behind the other children in terms of soccer skill and knowledge. Her strength is definitely toward the defensive end of the game; watching her play offense is best described as the classic "chicken with her head cut off" analogy. We are certainly not much help in this arena either. Sure, we can help with fundamentals but when it comes to helping her learn the role of forward versus trailer? No clue from this set of el futbol americano lovin' parents.

Saturday was her first game, and first of all I feel the need to document right here and now that she has most certainly inherited her mother's pre-game nerves. Two days before her game she started talking about how nervous she was and it only escalated with each passing day until we pulled into the parking lot. My final parting words seemed to finally put her at ease as I wisely shared with her the two most important things to remember when you are a member of a team: try your best and have fun.

Plus, when you look as cute as she did in her uniform, who really cares if you play well?

Divided into four quarters, we figured Shortcake would probably sit out the first fifteen minutes of the game. At the start of the second quarter, we weren't surprised to see Shortcake heading toward the field, but both The General and I laughed (and groaned) quietly when we saw her coach put her in as part of the offense. God bless her, though, she followed my advice and tried her little heart out on that field.

Most of the time she alternated between looking bewildered and annoyed. The up-and-down-the-field nature of soccer is something for which Shortcake very quickly grew tired, and she didn't let the span of an entire field stop her from letting us know exactly how hot she was at that particular moment with her exaggerated body language. She was able to get a couple of good kicks in and even took the ball a few feet down the field on her own. And when Shortcake was playing? I've never had more fun watching soccer in my life.

Shortcake got a much deserved rest during the third quarter, but Coach put her right back in at the start of the fourth. This time he wisely moved her to defense, a position in which she instantly appeared more comfortable playing.

Of course moments before the opposing team was set to kick the ball directly toward her, I looked up to watch her nonchalantly waving toward classmates at the neighboring field while the other defender - her teammate - knelt next to her, tying her shoe. My brief moment of panic was set aside when Coach called her off the field assuring her that he'd help her with the untied laces. I turned to The General and bet him a dollar that she untied it purposely just to be able to stay on the bench.

After an exciting 60 minutes of U-8 soccer action, Shortcake's team walked away with a victory with a final score of 2-1. The team gathered for a post-game pep talk and then they celebrated with their team cheer followed by snacks of grapes, oranges, and a juice box which Shortcake gleefully announced was her favorite part of the game.

Web-ber! (clap, clap) Mice-tich! (clap, clap) Chiro! (clap, clap) Practic! (clap, clap)
WEBER-MICETICH CHIROPRACTIC! (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap)

Punkin kept herself entertained during the majority of the game by coloring with her markers and coloring books, cheering for kids by shouting out random player's names regardless of whether or not they were actually on the field, begging for gum, and testing out her photography skills.

Despite the early morning heat and our initial reluctance to participate in anything having to do with soccer, I will admit that it was quite exciting watching this group of six, seven, and eight year olds. Some of them were actually quite talented and both The General and I were impressed with the athletic ability shown by some of the players. Shortcake walked away with a (tired) smile on her face, and that was enough to make it all worth while.


KelNosz said...

She looks adorable.

Aren't the physical differences between 6 and 8 drastic? Taylor is on a 6/7 team with a July 31st cutoff and a few of the girls turn 8 this month. She comes up to their armpits!

Soccer kind of blows unless your kid is playing. Then it's the best.thing. ever. :)

Anonymous said...

She does look cute in her uni!!


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