Life Comes At You Fast

My two kids participate in a delightfully unassuming local youth soccer league for boys and girls. This league consists of six teams and conducts hour-long practices once a week. The age ranges are quite broad, often resulting in 11-year-olds competing against high school freshmen who play for their J.V. teams. My eldest son is among these high school freshmen who participate in the league. Playing on a range of surfaces – half the games are on artificial-turf football fields, while the other half take place on a crabgrass-filled public park – the soccer league is decidedly laid-back, but the experience is a big deal for my kids.

They have been playing in this league since 2017, starting out in the Small and Very Small age categories, respectively. When we moved to our unique woodland property, one of the first things we did was enroll them in this low-pressure soccer league. Our philosophy has never involved manipulating their team assignments to create winning teams, meaning my boys often end up on the underdog teams. They have been on several teams that never won a game but also on some successful teams that scored goals and secured victories. One memorable year, my eldest couldn’t play alongside his younger brother and unintentionally ended up on a losing team, while his brother joined an unbeatable team in the lower age group. Despite the challenges, they have consistently remained on the same team.

There was one season where they were assigned to a team without a coach, struggling without enough players and without a single victory. Despite the losses, my kids maintained a positive attitude and willingly participated in additional practices. Their perseverance and cheerfulness during a season of defeat made me extremely proud of them.

Two years ago, my boys experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs in this league. They played on a team that never scored a goal or won a game during the regular season. However, the end-of-season tournament saw them clinching a victory, and the joy it brought them was a defining moment. This memory remains one of the happiest moments I’ve experienced as a parent.

Fast forward to the present, and things are more challenging. Both my kids are now official teenagers, causing sibling rivalry and the typical emotional upheaval. Additionally, they often find themselves on teams where they have to carry much of the weight due to their advanced skills.

In the most recent end-of-season tournament, my sons once again won their first game in penalties and faced the top-seeded team in the next round. Despite visible signs of fatigue, they fought fiercely, even though it was clear that the opposing team had an edge. My kids’ determination was remarkable, and even though they ultimately lost the game, their efforts were nothing short of heroic. Watching them never give up, even when they were visibly drained, was a prideful moment for me as their father.


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