Soccer Dad

I think I have at least one more “Soccer Dad” season coming my way and I have the team my son played for this year to thank for it.

The spring season has just wrapped up where I live and, while my 12-year-old son says he plans to go out again in the fall, if he’s anything like I was at his age, he may soon lose interest.

He’s really not much of a team sports sort of guy.

I’ve never been, either.  Not even when I was a kid.

For me, it had more to do to with loud-mouthed coaches than anything else.

I think these guys motivate more kids to turn away from organized sports than inspire them to stick around and get better.

Nobody likes being yelled at.

I reached my limit when I was 12 when, during one of our practices, my Little League baseball coach started yelling at his son. He bellowed so much and so loud that the kid started crying right there on the field while trying to shag balls at shortstop.

Who wants to play for a guy who makes his own kid cry in front of everybody?

Not me.

I started skipping practice and when I got the apologetic call from the coach telling  me I didn’t make the cut, my heart wasn’t broken.

Relieved is more like it.

I went back to playing what we called farm league ball (sort of the minor leagues of Little League) and was much happier.

Now, if my Little League baseball experience was anything like the soccer team my son played on this season things might have been different.

My son and I both had a great experience.

Sure, it helped that his team was good.  They won the championship for their age group last fall and never lost a game until the final one this spring, coming in as the runners-up.

But on the other hand, they could have lost every game and it still would have been a great season because the kids, put simply, clicked.

It’s an intangible thing that no coach can predict when choosing players they’ve never seen in a draft.  But I have to hand it to our coach.  He got the chemistry just right this time around.

Those kids REALLY got along well together on and off the field.

No one was the star, but everyone was the star and it showed in the way they worked the ball down the pitch and in every goal they scored.

I found myself looking forward to spending a few hours with the other team parents each weekend, cheering our kids on as they hustled up and down the field.

What really mattered, though, was the lessons about teamwork both my son and I learned along the way.  About working together toward a common goal.  About generosity and being there when others are depending on you.

These are lessons I should have learned a long time ago.  I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn them now.

If my son decides he doesn’t want to play organized sports anymore, it will be okay with me.

Besides, any other team he may play for would only pale in comparison.


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