Archives for posts with tag: soccer

Last week, I watched my youngest grandchild play in her first soccer game. They had two practices and were ready to take on the game as only a bunch of kindergarteners can, not knowing what they didn’t know. The parents and grandparents had little expectation and it was all fun. When I later asked mine what her favorite part was, she said scoring the points. They didn’t score any, so that’s that. Here she is getting close to the action. She also played goalie for a quarter, which I think was maybe 5 minutes. DSC_0019As I was turning out of the park, I had a sudden memory flash. Wow! This was my, counting in my head, 12th child to watch play soccer, including my four children and my eight grandchildren. Wow. This was the first organized sport for all of them and the only organized sport they all played. Wow. I spent time processing this as I remembered so much.

My oldest daughters started playing way back in the last century, back in 1976. Ancient times compared to the students I work with who were born in the late 199os. Soccer had been introduced to Tulsa the year before so none of us remembered or knew too much. Soccer was a game we played in gym class back in the 1950’s, or mid-century as it now referred to.

Anyway, my two oldest daughters were in 2nd grade and kindergarten that first year and played on the same team, the Crickets. There were no places to buy uniforms so our clever coach either made little weskits for them to wear over a shirt with shorts or found them somewhere. I’m not even sure they had soccer shoes, but I remember shin guards. I guess someone lined the fields. We didn’t have fancy game chairs and the kids played on full size fields, so there was a whole lot of running involved. And clover picking. Not much yelling since nobody understood the rules yet. That was later…My oldest daughter went on to play soccer and tennis and swim competitively. She liked it, but sports weren’t her all-consuming love. She had fun teams, mostly with girly names.

IMG_7483My second daughter took to soccer with a passion. Although she swam competitively and learned other sports, she played soccer  as a goalie all the way through college, getting a partial scholarship at a time when schools were just starting to offer them. She played after college and played with injuries until she had to stop. Then she had kids and became their coach and coached others and became a soccer mom. She was definitely our soccer kid!Scan 37Our third daughter started playing in 1978, when she was 5. Her first team was the Lollipops. She was later a Tiger and on other teams, and also swam competitively, but eventually took up softball and track in high school. She’s now a runner and has been in a couple of marathons. IMG_7485Our son started playing about 1980 when he was five. I don’t remember if this was his first team, but I love that my skinny boy was once an Incredible Hulk. He swam, although I wouldn’t say he was competitive, and played t-ball, basketball, football, and ran cross country. To be honest, he was better at art and comedy. When he died at the age of 35, one of his friends remembered him as the worst player on the soccer team, but the most fun. That was pretty much his story all along. He did win class elections, so there was a bit of competition in him!IMG_5021By the time we had grandkids, soccer was so established and was definitely still the place most kids started team sports. Now they could sometimes find teams when they were 3 or 4 years old playing on little fields. I think all of ours were at least 5 or in kindergarten, but they all started young. Our oldest, who is now a freshman in college, was a big kid and ready for sports. He played soccer for several years as well as baseball, basketball and football. Baseball was his favorite and he played through high school.86777-PH-8Sept2002-020Our first three grandsons were all born within 8 months of each other. The next two are graduating from high school next month. The second one is the son of my soccer playing second daughter, so he was on the field with Coach Mom. Guess what?! He’s almost 19 and still playing, although I think his years on the field are drawing to an end. Now 6’5″ he played basketball too, although he ended up in soccer, playing on a competitive team and the school varsity team. Note Coach Mom on the sideline here.86777-PH-8Sept2002-016The third grandson started with soccer and t-ball and played soccer and baseball for many years. He found his calling in football by high school, ending his career last fall as the Center on the high school team. He’s into filmmaking and off to other things now. He’s about to kick the ball in this picture.86838-PH-Box 01-066You can’t imagine what a rush of blurred soccer memories this has brought back to me. Putting all these sports into the perspective of my life has been a trip of sorts. Now we’re to my fourth grandson, another son of my Soccer Mom, who played soccer, baseball and basketball until he settled on soccer, playing on competitive teams and the high school team with his brother. He’s grown almost as tall as his brother in the last year and will still be kicking for as long as he can! I’ll throw in this picture of him with Coach Mom, although I have to show one of him running. He still flies through the air at times.

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My fifth grandson is about 9 months younger than the fourth and they are in the same class. This guy is our biggest kid since birth, still growing at 16 and 6″5 1/2″. He started in soccer and played soccer, basketball and baseball for many years. He only wants to play baseball now as a sophomore in high school. In fact, that’s all he wants to do and plays on a competitive team and on the school team. Anyone need a tall pitcher/first baseman to play for them when he finishes school? He started like the rest of them…with soccer.

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Whew! Are you keeping up with all of this? How many patches have I sewn on uniforms? How many soccer fields have I driven to? How many half-time bottles of water, orange slices, and after game snacks have I provided? When my kids were little, I had three or four playing at once and my husband had to work on Saturdays, so I drove a lot. Games on every side of town at the same time. The only time I wanted to scream was when I heard one of my daughters say I didn’t go to her games (she said this as an adult). Dang! I didn’t miss many! Really now.

The next two grandkids are now in 8th grade, in the same class, at the same school as the rest. It’s a combo middle/high school where three of my children and three of my kids’ spouses graduated. The girl, the third child of my soccer mom daughter, is now playing soccer, basketball, volleyball, and, are you ready?, shot put on the track team. She’s the envy of her youngest cousin who now has trophies and medals in her eyes after seeing a picture of her idol with a medal around her neck and the team trophy awarded to her for her work as goal keeper. She was into it from the start.

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She’s only about 3 weeks older than her cousin, who is in the same class. He started with soccer and has played baseball, basketball and football. He’s now playing baseball most of the time on a competitive team. I guess he’ll go out for varsity baseball and play with his cousin next year. When these youngest two (not counting the kindergartner) began, they were on the same team with Coach Mom coaching. She became Coach Aunt Robin at that time. Here they both are, jumping for joy at the same age my youngest is now.

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All these memories rushing in. So many trophies and medals. So many games and tournaments.

The meaning I get from this is that I am the luckiest person in the world. I am still alive and healthy and have seen all of them play their games and enjoy all their activities from sports to singing to art and dance. Does it get any better than this? I don’t make it to every game because that would be impossible with all the sports in all the places with all these kids, but I see enough to bask in their enthusiasm and take pride in their abilities.

I’ve watched my children and grandchildren lose, pout, stomp their feet, cry, laugh and enjoy the wins. I’ve watched the kids do the “good game” hand slap walk across the fields with the other team and walk back to their parents with either the joy of victory or the sting of defeat. The best is the beginners who haven’t figured it out yet and run off the field happy either way the game ended.

It’s been fun to be on the sidelines all these years. You know, it’s not too long until there may be another generation for me to follow to the kicking fields. I hope I can make it because won’t that be the best ever?

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, there weren’t a lot of organized sports for kids.  We played the usual at school and learned softball/baseball, soccer, tetherball, etc.  At home, we played workup and kicked the ball around and were always doing something outside, just not very organized except to us.  I took golf lessons and swimming lessons, but there weren’t any teams for a girl to be on.  We had intramural basketball and some other sports in high school.  My brother played baseball when he was a kid, but I only remember going to a couple of games and we sat on the sides in the dirt.  The coach took the team in his car for ice cream sometimes.  My husband played baseball through junior high and there were, of course, teams in all the sports for the boys.  I had a couple of trophies, mainly for jr. golf tournaments or an occasional  swim medal on the 4th of July.

I’ll have to take partial blame for what my generation did to sports.  As parents of three girls and a boy, we made sure they were exposed to just about everything from music to scouting to church to sports.  Between my four, there were lessons or teams in these sports through the years:  soccer (all four played and one went through college on a partial scholarship, one of the first group of girls to get one), swimming (all four swam competitively), golf, tennis, softball/baseball, football, ice skating, track, basketball.  What’s left?  It was a time to encourage girls that they too could be a champion in whatever they wanted to do.

Clayton the football playerMostly, our fields were pretty primitive, barely mowed for play.  Uniforms were basic t-shirts or homemade when my girls started soccer.  There were no cleats.  That market grew quickly and they soon looked like mini-pros.  Still pretty basic though.

Scan 5I’ve been a scorekeeper and a timekeeper and mostly a carpooler.  On Saturdays, my husband worked and I drove all over the place.  I also drove to all the practices and lessons, often on all sides of town the same day.  (How many years was that?  Let’s say 20 years.  I shouldn’t have figured that out.) We didn’t encourage the new competitive leagues because it was too much of a burden on the family, travel, time and money wise to devote that much to just one of the kids.  The one who went that direction excelled on her high school team and got the scholarship anyway.

Scan 15I worked for many years at the local ice rink, doing marketing and working with the families.  I talked to aspiring Olympic moms and dads, telling them the benefits of the sport without giving them false hope their talented child would be one of the extremely few who made the Olympic team.  But, you can’t discourage parents when they have a talent.  I know that.

Scan 4My eight grandkids, 6 boys and 2 girls, are all in sports in a big way.  Well, the 4-year old isn’t there yet.  The others, ages 12-17, are now down to playing football (1), soccer (3), baseball (3) and basketball (5).  Several are on both school and competitive league games (or whatever they are called).  They play games all over the country all the time, sometimes with up to three games a day.  I will have to say my kids never played more than two a day and I can’t even remember that.  And they have practices, too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a lifestyle choice for parents because it takes a lot of money and a lot of time for the whole family.  There are a lot of trophies, big trophies, and scouts who come to even the games of the youngest to recruit for high school, college and the pros.  There are specialized coaches, and uniforms and equipment bags and iPad apps for keeping stats and scores and paid coaches and parents who follow the games religiously.  It’s very sophisticated.

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One change is the playing fields.  Communities realized there was money to be made by building mega-sports complexes and they built them and the teams came.  I know from my days at the ice rink that you have to keep the facilities filled to keep them going.  You need money to pay them off and maintain them.  There are volunteers to work in the snack bars, someone to clean the bathrooms, someone to manage the scheduling.  Tournaments are a boon to the American economy.  You haven’t traveled until you’re in a hotel/motel with a team of kids sharing the facility.  Family vacations are planned around tournaments or are part of the tournament weekend.  If you’re lucky, you can see a bit of the city where you are playing.  Throw some history or culture into the mix if you have time between trips to the fields.

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Don’t think I’m being critical.  I wouldn’t dare, because I was a part of this for my kids and they want even better for their kids and so it goes.  I love watching the families at all the games.  I love the parents dressed in their fan gear.  I love the younger siblings playing in the dirt.  I like watching the young teammates, who always adopt a look of their own, just as they did when my kids played.  They know all the catch phrases and mimic the pros as they high five and yell popular chants.  There is a camaraderie between the parents and they encourage the kids.  There is some murmuring when a kid isn’t playing up to the high standards, but there is mostly a warm feeling.

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As it’s always been, coaches are critical.  Since my own childhood, I’ve seen kids drop out of a sport they love because of a coach who made the experience miserable.  That still goes on.  A good coach can be so important.  Well, that holds true for everyone who works with kids.  If we can’t inspire them to want to learn or play better or be a better person, what’s going on?  We’ve all had the bad experience and it teaches us in a certain way, but there’s nothing better than a good experience.

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So, what’s my point?  I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and bash the parents who have devoted so very much to their children.  They could certainly hover less or give fewer trophies or find time to just be together without anything organized, but they’re doing good things, too.  We all make our way as parents.  Even with the millions of parenting tips you get, you still have to find your own way for you and your children.

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A friend once told me that the only thing we really give our children is memories.  That’s all the lifestyle choice we need to make when you get down to it.  It can be organized or not, just make memories, good ones!   As for me, I’m part of the mamarazzi, the proud grandmother taking a million pictures to remember, just as I always have.

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