Going out with a bang

Sarah played in a soccer tournament this past weekend. We had committed her as a “guest” player for a team of kids comprised largely of girls from our summer swim team prior to her being diagnosed with severe inflammation in her Achilles’ tendon. She knew these would be her final few games until next fall when we could have her feet and ankles reevaluated by our orthopedic specialist.

Sarah wasn’t able to practice with these girls prior to the tournament. I never thought to ask the single most important question, the position they needed her to play. As fate would have it, they needed her on defense, a position I don’t recall her ever playing.

Aside from the fact that it was miserably cold, it was fun to watch her play. The kids and parents were very welcoming. She knew the coach and his daughter very well so she felt very comfortable with them. Sarah took on her position as if it were second nature. She communicated well with the other players. She played with heart and sole and a whole lot of scrappy. I hadn’t seen her this relaxed on the field in well over a year.

Even though Sarah loved her old soccer coach and team, it also had become a stressful environment. There was a lot of pressure on the kids. By the coach, the other kids and by the parents. Too much by the parents. They all envision their kids future collegiate soccer players. I saw them as a nice average group of kids. Which is why I suppose we didn’t fit in all the time.

Sarah has always been nicknamed scrappy. It suits her well. This past weekend was no exception. I’m proud of her for not being intimidated playing a new position and for working hard as an individual player and in an unfamiliar team environment. I saw her having fun. Something she hadn’t done with soccer in a long while. Well done Sarah. Well done. Lets put the cleats away now and get you better. And maybe consider defense in the future. She was a natural at it.

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Gaining sight? Finding perspective?

Sarah’s soccer team has been going through a lot of transitions in the past year. At the beginning of this year they moved from a recreational league to a slightly more competitive league. The girls practiced twice a week instead of one and were expected to work daily on foot skills and conditioning. They lost every game but one.

For the winter season they opted to play Futsal instead of indoor soccer and will return to the same outdoor league come spring. The coach has decided spring will be her last season with the girls and is working with the parents to find the right transition into fall not only for the team but each individual girl. She asked us to consider as a family the following:

1. Are you willing to commit to five practices a week?
2. Are you willing to travel one weekend a month to tournaments?
3. Do you want to play soccer in college?

And the question not asked? As a parent are you willing to pay in excess of $5k a year to play soccer?

I will make it easy. No. To all of the above. Especially the question everyone is dancing around. A select group of parents are driving this increased level of commitment.

As much as I grumble about the cost of swimming, I spend less than that on all three girls swimming in a year. Yes, we are at the pool 7 days a week. Yes we travel occasionally for a swim meet – more often than not we don’t. But all three participate in swimming for less cost.

If asked to commit to one sport, Sarah would chose soccer over swimming. The problem is, I can’t commit to the expected level of commitment that a select few parents have decided we need to have if the team is to move forward as a group.

I decided not to react. Surely other parents would feel the same way I do. One can dream right?

Please don’t go.

Sad.

Sarah has been with the same soccer coach for 4 years now, since first grade.  Coach K is amazing and incredible.  She makes the girls work hard, teaches them to be respectful of each other and fellow competitors as well as respect for the game.  She is the type of role model we can only hope for our young girls to have.

On the way to her soccer game Friday night Sarah said “I am going to play with Coach K forever”.  I had to hide my tears from her.  That same morning we had gotten an email from the coach apologizing profusely because she had to step down as their coach.  In simple terms, life was getting in the way.

I by no means blame her.  She works full-time and is in graduate school.  She also volunteers her time to these girls and is not compensated in any manner.  The gift card we give her at the end of each season doesn’t even begin to properly express our gratitude.

She has asked us not to tell the girls yet and I will respect her wishes.  I don’t even know how to explain it to Sarah, she will take it hard.

I try to teach my kids to be adaptable.  I want them to get along with all coaches and teachers.  I don’t want them to have favorites and I don’t want them to talk about teachers and coaches in terms of mean, bad, hard, easy.  I think everyone who coaches and teaches our children has something positive to offer, we need to learn to deal with everyone and having someone new step in can always be a positive.

Except in the case of Coach K.  She was supposed to be there forever.  Change is good.  Right?

The little voices

Even though I tell myself not to get sucked in, I can’t get rid of the tiny little voices.  Every parent has them, they keep us up at night and occupy our mind when we should be doing more important things – like the laundry.  Truth be told, I guess I would rather listen to the tiny little voices than do laundry.  But it isn’t very productive.

As a parent we are always deciding, what is best for my child?  We try to find the right balance in making these decisions.  Too much or two little of what is best and everything turns to shit.  Or does it?  I don’t know.

Sarah has swim Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.  Soccer Wednesday, Friday and games Saturday.  Yes, all seven days are covered.  Yes, she has down time and homework is always a priority.  I have found the right balance for her.  It’s all good.  Until something tips the scale.

Sarah has a soccer game Friday night.  The coach decided to call a practice Thursday night since they had a game during their regularly schedule practice.

I worried about this all night last night.  Should I take her to soccer or swim?  The soccer coach has a policy that if you don’t practice you don’t play.  The swim team has no such policy but she has an opportunity on Thursday to swim with the group she is trying to move into.  Coach is looking for dedicated swimmers.

I got the answer I was looking for this morning.  The soccer coach sent an email reminding everyone that there was an OPTIONAL practice tonight and if the kids had any obligations outside of that she totally understood and not attending would not affect game play.  Problem solved.

Until I told Sarah.  She wants to go to soccer.

I think she needs to go to swim.  She thinks she needs to go to soccer.  I have logical reasons.  Hers are emotional.

She is 10.  It would be easy to say I know best.  Or, she is 10.  Who cares?  Let her have fun.  Damn those voices.

Jury is still out as to what we will do.  In the end, she could sit on the couch and watch Honey Boo Boo and her life would not be impacted one tiny bit from missing either practice.

Why can’t it just freaking rain?

Lucky 13?

Grace had several goals going into the beginning of this year.  Her primary goal was to qualify for zones.  All of the other goals were little stepping-stones on the path to Richmond in August.  She stepped on some.  She kicked the shit out of others.  Some she skipped right over.  This has been a great year for Grace, a year full of accomplishments and firsts.  To say we are proud would be an understatement.  Above all else, I am proud of her for never giving up and for believing in herself when others didn’t.

She has at this point qualified for every meet that she had hoped to, with three still to be swam.

Tonight she swims Coaches Long Course – This meet is the top 8 swimmers in each age group our summer swim league.  Yeah I know big whoop.  I don’t have an exact number but there are roughly 10,000 kids in this league, most of whom swim competitively year round.  It is a long course meet, they double their summer distance and it is a USA Swimming sanction meet – which means it counts!  Grace is swimming 100 back and 100 free. We need that 100 back zone time!  She would take the free time too if the swim gods are feeling generous.

She then has another shot at 6 events at Junior Olympics and then Zones.  And then…wait for it…VACATION!  We are going to Florida for almost two weeks in August and don’t plan to look at a pool.

And then it will be September.  Grace goes into Fall as a 12-year-old but comes out of it 13.  She turns 13 before the first major meet (Dolan) of the season.  Several of her friends turned 13 in the spring and I watch them race with a different look in their eye, almost a look of defeat.  These kids are amazing swimmers.  Amazing at 12 and amazing at 13.  The difference being, you win at 12 and not at 13.

It almost seems cruel to take a hormonal girl, going from pre-teen to teen, and to dump her from the top to the bottom.  Someone with boys had to have come up with this strategy.

While this has been a very fun year to watch Grace swim, my ultimate goal is to make sure that Grace’s year next year is even more fun.  She didn’t get to 12 without going through the tribulations of being 11 and she has to survive 13 to get to 14.  We can do this.  August will be a nice month.  Grace will compete in Zones and then as a family we will decompress and reevaluate goals for next year as we move into a new year.

Did I mention that my girls are all TOP of their age group and BOTTOM at the same time?  This is going to be a fun ride…

I should also mention that Sarah, who will turn 11 in November will be playing U12 Soccer in the fall.  We are going to have a lot to talk about.

Soccer rockers in the house tonight

Yesterday marks the end of the beginning. Sarah has played soccer with the Red Hots for four years now. They are a tight nit group with an amazing track record and a coach that we think the world of. These girls have grown up together and have also matured as athletes.

As such, it is time to bid a fond farewell to our recreation soccer league. The girls will we moving together to a select league. They have decided that in the spirit of out with the old, in with the new, they need a new team name. The mighty Red Hots are no more.

Two years ago when coach K asked the girls what they would like to do for their end of the year party, one of the girls suggested taking a limo to Paris. The girls thought this was a splendid idea. The idea, while impractical was not forgotten.

This seasons last game was cancelled. The fields were too wet. Coach K held a final practice in its place. The girls ran drills and scrimmaged for an hour. At the end she ha them all facing her, away from the road. A limo pulled up and opened its doors. The girls were told to turn around and sprint towards the road. Holy high-pitched yelling.

The girls were driven for ice cream and then arrived at a local pool for a party and awards ceremony. A wonderful time was had by all. A lot of fond memories have been made with these girls and I look forward to many more.

Two very predictable things happened at the party. The first – Sophie was pissed she didn’t get to ride in the limo. The second? Check out Sarah’s award!  Be sure to read this if you haven’t:

The Trophy Wife

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No one gets hurt

sitting on the couch eating Cheetos.  Right?

Sarah is having an MRI this evening.  She royally screwed her knee up the other night playing soccer.  Now she can’t put weight on it or straighten it.  Fantastic.  Looks like swimming once again is plan B.  Fingers crossed I am wasting my money on this MRI and it is just a bruised knee.  I used my google MD degree today and now I am nervous.  Google = torn tendon, torn meniscus, torn ligament, torn cartilage, torn torn torn.

I like to credit the two stress fractures and monkeyed up knee to good parenting.  Kids don’t get hurt sitting around the house watching TV.  You have to actually participate in life for it to get the better of you.  I’ll keep you posted.

Letting go

When normal people sleep, I like to worry about decisions that I can’t control and don’t even need to be decided this week, let alone tonight.  Staring at the ceiling is a bit of a hobby.

Sarah’s has played soccer with the same coach and players for the past four years.  As a team they have grown not only as players but as friends.  Sarah has always had somewhat iffy footings in soccer.  When she was younger what she lacked in talent she made up for in enthusiasm.  In the fall of last year she started showing some aptitude but then suffered a severe stress fracture in her foot and spent the remainder of the season in a cast.  This was actually her second stress fracture in as many years.  As spring soccer moved into summer swimming, I held out hope that she would gain a love of swimming and we could become a three kids swim family and I could give away my soccer mom tiara.  Don’t get me wrong, I love soccer but I am also lazy.  Unfortunately, Sarah continued a like for swimming.

This year I kept her in both swimming and soccer, both only practiced twice a week and with two fairly short soccer seasons we still had a scheduled I could manage.  Sarah’s love for soccer turned into passion and the stress fractures, related to growth, seemed to be a thing of the past.  Not only does Sarah adore the sport, her team and her coach, she has also become the lead scorer on her team.  And a ball hog.  We are working on that.

As we move into summer swimming, her amazing soccer team is looking to move the girls into a select league which will involve more practice, more games and yes you guessed it more money.  As much as I would love to say no, the answer is clearly yes.  I am very excited for her and to see where she goes in this sport.  Her goal is to play soccer at my alma mater.  Seeing as I went to college at the beach, at the coolest school, this is a noble goal.  I would be happy to visit her there.  After she gets through fifth grade of course.

Which brings me to the reason why at 11:47 I am writing this.  I am afraid this means letting go of swimming.  And it makes me sad.  Up until this year I thought swimming was a stupid sport and now I can’t sleep because I am trying to figure out how to let go of the notion that my life would be easier if all three of my kids were swimmers.  I need to come to terms with the fact that things are going to get more complicated as the girls grow and become their own people and that the easy way is not the best way.

I haven’t asked Sarah what she wants to do because I know what she will say, that she wants to do both.  I don’t think it is practical or possible.  Now that I have gotten this off my chest I think I will shop for new shoes.

We scrub up nice

Sarah is a self-professed tom boy and refuses to wear pink.

This created a bit of a dilemma for her recently, she wanted soccer shorts and tank top from Justice and the outfit came only in pink.  After a solid 24 second deliberation she decided to break her own rule and wear pink.

She wore the outfit to school the other day and on the way to school she was trying to convince herself that she was going to be ok in this newly charter territory.  I feel for her, she doesn’t have the best role model with me as a mom.  I do own a fitness apparel company and as such tend to spend most of my waking moments in workout clothes. That and the fact that I am a group fitness instructor.  I tend to work out about two hours a day and am stinky and sweaty a great deal of time.

As she was rationalizing this in her head she said to me “its okay if I am a tom boy some of the time and dress cute every now and then”.  And without taking another breath:

“I mean you look nice every now and then”.

Wow.  OK.  And there you have it.

In my defense, I may not look nice often but when I do I like to wear dresses and big old platform shoes.  I am not a total loss.

Seriously, if my worst crime as a role model for my children is that I prefer to be sweaty, strong and physically active over cute, I can live with that.

Her new outfit though has upped my cute factor at the gym though because when I open my dryer after washing and drying the outfit, I am sprayed with glitter remnants.