Tada! The day you have all been waiting for has arrived! (Well, maybe not all of you, but the one’s who knew Ryan for certain…) Jake and Ben each had their very first soccer games today. The day started early, and this is the first day in a long while that I had to wake the kids up instead of being woke up by the kids. But, they were both eager to get out of bed and get dressed, because they were excited for their soccer games. Ben started the morning with his usual, “I get to play a real soccer game today! This is the greatest day of my life!”
Ryan stepped outside to check the weather, and it was damp and frigid, but it wasn’t actually raining at that point. We decided to dress the boys with extra layers anticipating that they would get cold despite their movement across the field. Ryan carefully helped each boy get dressed, adjusting their shin guards, pulling up their long socks and getting their cleats on properly. He also surprised both boys with a team shirt of his own that he got for being an assistant coach, which they both thought was really cool! Ryan seemed cool and confident enough about what was supposed to be happening, but I was terrified. What is a soccer mother supposed to wear these days? Where are my mom jeans? My jeans were low rise and rested on my hips, could that be appropriate? Shouldn’t I have signs, or a bull horn, or something?
Once we were all dressed like pros, sans waist high mom pants, we headed off in the van, which has officially earned it’s keep as a “soccer” van. We arrived at the local soccer complex. At this point, it started misting, and I was beginning to realize we were in for a long morning. There were tons of kids in various colored shirts all over the place. It was loud and chaotic, but very exciting. We found Jake’s field first, and Ryan was the first coach on the scene, so he got the boys warming up together. That was fun for Ben, because he got to play with the big boy team for a bit.
|yeah, sorry for the poor quality on this one. It was the best of the 3 of them together though.
Then Ryan pointed me in the correct direction for Ben’s field and I took Ben towards his team. Unfortunately, Ben and Jake played at the same time, so Ryan had to stay and coach Jake and I missed all of Jake’s game. Meanwhile, I took Ben to his game that Ryan was missing. As I walked away, I got to see Ryan in his first Wizard team huddle. That was all I saw of the Wizard’s strategy. According to Ryan’s account later though, the huddle may have been the highlight of the field position. Apparently, the Wizards would go on to lose about 6 to nothing, and Ryan was left with several ideas of fundamentals he wants to work on at the next practice. BUT, Jake would relay that he did very well on defense and he enjoyed himself a LOT, and he can’t wait to do it again! So, it was a success for sure.
Once we hit Ben’s field, Ben got to warm up with his friends for a little bit. His coach talked to me casually, and explained that the league was short on refs today, as most of them were taking their ACTs for college. Therefor, today would be a scrimmage rather than an actual game. He also enlightened me that his oldest son was playing on the 2nd grade Wizards, which just so happened to be Ryan & Jake’s team… and suddenly I felt like soccer mom royalty. (Despite the lack of mom jeans and all.) A few of the other soccer mom’s rallied around me and talked up their own kiddos as we watched Ben’s team huddle.
It was at this point it occurred to me that taking a preschooler, pairing him with several other Kindergartners and 1st graders and preparing them with only 2 practices ever might not make for a great team strategy. I got very anxious at this thought, and worried for Ben’s ability to focus and listen long enough to get into the correct field positions. I was reassured that soccer at this age is all about encouraging them to play like good sportsman, helping them get a bit a small handle on the fundamentals of the sport, but most importantly to wear them out running from one end of the field to the other. And, as I feared, there were definitely some hitches… Ben and a few other children decided that playing back field defense meant that they should stand in the goal and dance around each other, and the first goal was scored almost immediately against them without them even noticing any of the commotion. Once the coach got them refocused and pushed them towards the action, Ben was knocked down and cried a bit. (His coach literally just picked him up and ran after the clutterball pack, carrying him as he went. He was awesome. Ben cuddled into him until he was ready to play again, and then he jumped down and ran enthusiastically with the coach’s encouragement right back at the pack.) There was also a few issues with the kids not knowing how or where to stand and when to change out players, but nothing that wasn’t sweet and entertaining.
But, in between the minor hitches of the first half, some really crazy cute soccer was being played. The boys all got very excited and cheered as each team exchanged goals on one another. They all got a little more involved and ran towards the action. They would fall, but each player got up very quickly and shook it off. I was so excited I was screaming and shouting for them louder than I find myself shouting at derby matches. All in all, it was a great deal of fun!
Fun, until the rain began to fall. The mist turned into a full out downpour, and our little men were left out there very cold and very wet. This is when attitudes started changing. Many of the kids were eager to be changed out and take a break on the side lines. At one point, the coach was bribing and begging the kids to give up the umbrella to get enough people out on the field.
Ben left the field at the change of the last quarter, and refused to go back. He begged to go home, to eat, to leave, to do just about anything other than sit in the rain. But, he did a fantastic job cheering from the sideline. When his coach would urge him to get back out there and play again because he had done so well, (and there were moments he had done very well, in deed, despite being the smallest squirt out there) Ben would cheer louder and louder for his team. “GO FIRE GO! GO FIRE GO! WE CAN WINNNNNNNNN!”
After Ben’s game concluded, we headed back to towards the van where we met up with Ryan and Jake. They, too were soaked and worn down from the morning. Through out the remainder of the day we discussed the things we hope will happen differently. The boys all have aspirations of things they want to do to play better next time. I am just hoping to remember some of the items I observed were necessary equipment for soccer moms, namely a lawn chair, blanket, umbrella and a hot cocoa. It turns out the bull horn will not be necessary after all, as I can do a fine job of cheering annoyingly without it!
And, tonight, I tucked the boys into bed without a hitch. This was the first night that I can recall in ages that they both went to bed without protest, didn’t beg for more stories to be read, and didn’t run out into the living room only to be escorted back to their respective beds. And, this would indicate to me that we did in fact wear the boys out between the running and the shivering… so I believe I can officially say that our first day of soccer was a soaking success!