It’s been less than one month since Oakdale Youth Soccer League wrapped up its 2009 Season. My two-year-old is still running around with pink pom-poms asking, “Today soccer practice?” as her five-year-old brother sits in his room admiring his first trophy.
This was our first year as a soccer family and one that brought with it many memories and laughs we will not soon forget.
While my stepfather and his three children are true soccer studs, my husband and I — well, not so much. My husband grew up on horseback and spent much of his youth in a rodeo arena or on a basketball court. I pretty much did everything else. My family still takes pleasure in reminiscing on every activity I ever tried. “Teresa tried everything,” the stories always begin. Brownies, jazz dancing, swimming, basketball, volleyball, track and field and even roller dancing (yep, you read right - remember Roller Boogie?). I was the kid always looking to try new things.
This was the year our son decided he really wanted to play soccer. Supportive parents that we are, we signed him up.
This should be fun, I recall saying to my husband early in the season. One practice and halfway through his first game, my son turned to me and stated emphatically, “I don’t like soccer.”
Fun would now take on a new meaning and really put our parenting skills (not to mention sense of humor) to the test.
I feel it necessary to also point out at the end of that same game, following a couple of passes through the ceremonial parental tunnel and a visit to the snack mom things changed. “I love soccer,” our five-year-old proclaimed with a large Gatorade in one hand and cookies in the other. “This is so much fun.”
The following week, he felt it necessary to inform us he did not need to go to practice — we could just take him to the games. If only it were that easy. We of course explained the importance of always showing up, not only for your team but your coach as well. Regardless of skill and who is the best, these people were counting on him. And so each week, soccer cleats dragging we would report to practice. The lesson was he had to finish what he started.
Keeping the team focused and motivated was the constant challenge of Coach Kurt and his assistant Coach David. Parenting a child at this age is challenging enough; taking on nine of them at once (as a volunteer) is beyond commendable.
As we worked our way through the season, other mommies would share their thoughts and memories. “It’s a great way for them to be with other boys,” many would offer.
In season, this did not seem to matter to our son. He was the kid looking for dragon flies at practice or admiring fall leaves on the soccer field come game day. Not to mention cheering openly when coach would replace him on the field with another teammate.
We often refer to him as our family politician and that became apparent one game when he cheered for the other team, because a friend from school was wearing the blue jersey (opposed to his team color of green). My husband quickly pointed out he needed to support and cheer on his team (the Gators). Ever the diplomat, our son quickly corrected his father and informed him there was no reason we couldn’t cheer for everybody.
And then there is the infamous trophy. The topic of awarding children trophies for just showing up is one I will reserve for a different day. It is after all the holidays, so I will play nice.
Staying true to being anything but predictable, our son delighted at the shiny gold soccer trophy adorned with a participant ribbon. Thrilled more by the ribbon than the trophy he quickly proclaimed, “I guess they really did like me.”
Therein lies the lesson. Mommy was silly enough to think this season was to be spent learning a skill and a few life lessons on teamwork. For our son the lesson was more about acceptance and friendships and most importantly — snack.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.