In real life (as opposed to online), I’m a soccer mom. I’m not exactly sure how this happened but it did. Both my kids play year-round soccer… and soon, probably year-round basketball. No one is more surprised than me.
I’m athletic and active enough but I have to admit, I am whatever the opposite of a sports fan is… that’s me. The fact that the World Series was being played a few miles from my house barely registered on my radar. And in St. Louis, that’s sacrilegious. Oh well.
But I do I love that my kids play. I love that they love it. It never fails though that I get wide-eyed shocked at some point every weekend at the behavior of some parent or coach on the sidelines. In the last year, as my kids have both joined select soccer clubs, I’m still amazed at the intensity, the competitiveness, and the drama surrounding youth soccer. I’ve had many conversations with other parents, some of whom are also coaches, about what is best for our kids.
A friend of mine was watching a game with me recently and he commented that he really liked our coach’s approach. He said, “He coaches girls. Not basketball players.” I thought that was an interesting observation. It dawned on me that it’s why the girls continue to love going to practice and games and tournaments, even though they didn’t have a stellar record this season. Not only did they show up but they really “showed up,” hustling in every game and giving other teams who’s average height was a foot taller than their average, a run for their money. It made me remember that my kids are… K-I-D-S. So whatever sport they are playing isn’t just about the game for them. It’s about having a good time with their friends. It’s about having their parents and grandparents wave at them from the sidelines and cheer for them. It’s about feeling good about themselves. It’s about spending an hour having F-U-N. I speculate that when they stop having fun, they’ll stop playing.
Now, I actually do break a sweat when I watch them play basketball, it’s that exciting. But even if their team loses or my kids don’t do particularly well, I just don’t think that they need to hear about it from me. I mean, they have a team huddle after every game, right? I’m not their coach. I’m their mom.
A few weeks ago, my daughter had an indoor soccer game and I was sitting in the bleachers behind “Hannah’s Mom.” I knew this because it was embroidered on the back of her sweatshirt, along with Hannah’s number, I’m assuming. Hannah’s mom was scowling as she held her beer, obviously quite emotionally invested in this game. Between plays, she got right up to the glass and when Hannah came close, she slammed her finger up to it loud enough for the whole thing to shake and yelled, “Now let’s go!!!!!”
All I could think of was poor Hannah. Well that and wondering what would have happened if I had said to Hannah’s mom, “Why don’t you get out there, if you think you can do better?” I had a variety of different dream sequences going on in my mind, let me tell you.
That’s the thought that keeps it real for me when I think… “Man, they need to step it up!” or “She’s just not getting to the ball fast enough” is imagining myself out there. No way! It’s so easy to see from the bleachers where they should be on the court/field but even just picturing my 40-year old self running up and down that field is exhausting. I try to put myself in their shoes and that’s usually enough to keep my mouth shut. And the look on Hannah’s face.
I’m not an expert. I’m not a coach. I’m a soccer mom. But according to some coaches/experts, “mom” is exactly what my kids want me to be. –Ria Sharon
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