People warned me this would happen. Either I didn’t really believe them or just didn’t think it would be a problem but now the dilemma has set in.
Wet weather notwithstanding, the spring high school sports season has started and that means lots of softball, baseball, tennis, track and field, golf and soccer. Not only do I cover these for Escalon, when the Cougars face Trans-Valley League rival Riverbank, you might see me in the City of Action getting a few photos. Occasionally, Escalon and Oakdale also cross paths — as in a track meet earlier this season — but usually only in preseason competition.
So while many of my spring afternoons are taken up with photographing sports and my weekends tracking down coaches, now I find myself in the tricky balancing act area of trying to cover the Escalon athletes while also making it to the JV soccer games for the Oakdale Lady Mustangs – a team my freshman daughter is playing for this season.
Some of you may remember a few years ago when I kept both a red Oakdale Soccer sweatshirt (for her competitive travel team) and my purple Escalon letterman’s jacket in my car, often stopping to change to the proper color at the county line in my travels. This week, I got photos at Escalon’s varsity and JV softball games on March 30 and then — horror of horrors — jetted off to my daughter’s soccer game at Oakdale still wearing my purple Escalon polo shirt (no jacket required - Wednesday was an 80-degree day).
One of the Oakdale moms in the bleachers assessed the situation: “Escalon day today?” she asked, one eyebrow raised slightly, taking note of my purple attire.
Luckily, the wind kicked up during the second half so I was able to put on a light sweater and hide my non-Oakdale colors.
The unfortunate part was that I arrived with just a couple minutes remaining in the first half. I was able to watch the whole second half but as I got there, another mom was quick to let me know my daughter had been “on fire” in the first half.
Her very first Valley Oak League game was away, on the road in nearby Manteca, but luckily it was on a Wednesday, which is our ‘slow’ day for the paper. That’s what we call it, anyway, since that is the day after we go to press and we have a chance to take a collective breath.
My plan actually was to stay for the first half, as there was an event I needed to cover that evening in Escalon and could catch it as I drove back from her game. At halftime, I went down to the field to tell her good bye and good luck in the second half and, for the first time, felt that tearing of my heart as she looked at me, a mixture of disappointment and sorrow clouding her face, and said “You’re leaving?”
Work, I told her, there was something I needed to go get photos of, adding she played great in the first half and I was very proud of her.
It was in that split second — looking into those eyes — that my decision was made.
It was time to be a mom.
A supportive mom.
I couldn’t leave. She would only have one first high school JV soccer game. The mere fact that she is in high school is frightening enough, to think how fast the years have gone, and now is the time that she needs me most. Whether or not she thinks so.
A quick hug, a smile, I told her “Do your best” and I returned to my seat in the bleachers to watch the second half. Oakdale won the game — a shutout — and she rode home with me, excitedly talking over the game and some of the good plays her team made. We even stopped in Escalon long enough for me to catch the final few minutes of the event I wanted to cover.
So far, in between deadlines and assignments, I have been able to get to each of her league games. The one that would have been hardest to attend was rained out … hopefully my luck holds throughout the season.
Monday games are the most difficult — that is a huge deadline day for us, with multiple pages laid out in our three papers — but with a little bit more sports writing on the weekends and better time management earlier in the week on my part, maybe I can still get there.
Just don’t expect me to always be wearing the right color.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.