Who’s Turn is it to Kick?

I realized today that it has been a while since I shared an excerpt from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. The following is from a chapter on soccer, a sport that dominated our lives for many years. Enjoy….

Long before anyone heard of Soccer Moms and Sarah Palin, I was spending several days a week at soccer games or schlepping kids to practice. For a number of years our lives revolved around the soccer fields and trying to make it to two or more games on a Saturday, sometimes scheduled only fifteen minutes apart and at opposite sides of town.

Three of our kids, David, Michael, and Dany, played regularly for several years. The other two did not enjoy soccer. Anjanette stayed with swimming and diving before getting into gymnastics and dance.

Paul made a valiant effort to hold to the family tradition and tried the sport for one year before deciding he just didn’t care for it. He tried baseball after that, and didn’t care for it, either, finally realizing he wasn’t really the athletic type, which doesn’t mean he wasn’t in shape. One year he won a Physical Training trophy in JrROTC for doing the most sit-ups in a minute – over a hundred. I’m not sure who was the most surprised, Paul, me, or the buff kid he beat out.

David was the one who started the craze at our house. He took to the sport like he was a Pele clone and played for two years before Michael made his debut. David has always been a good athlete, and he really liked the competitive spirit of the game, so the only problem he encountered on the field, was trying not to trip over the sole of his shoe that we tried to hold together with Duct tape. He was also lucky enough to start off on a good team, with good coaches, and they twice vied for city champs.

So I became a Soccer Mom before it was a status symbol. I loved to watch the games, and I usually ended up hoarse from cheering and exhausted from pacing up and down the sidelines. I never thought that taking an interest in our children’s activities would be so tiring.

As soon as Michael was old enough, he wanted to play, so we signed him up. On the way to his first game, he was very excited about his new soccer shoes, his jersey, and his shorts, and I started to wonder what he thought the game was all about. He asked me if I would yell and cheer the way I do at David’s games, and I told him of course, that’s a mother’s place in the scheme of things. But I’m not sure if the following fit the definition of cheering:
“Michael, kick the ball. Don’t just stand there!”
“Michael, get up! If you’re tired, your coach can put somebody in for you.”
“Michael, you’re not out there to pick flowers, you’re out there to play soccer.”
“Yes, Michael, I saw you kick the ball. Now get back into the game.”
“Michael, if the coach says come out of the game, come out. Don’t stand there arguing with him.”

And so the season went, with the kids playing what some of us called “chicken soccer.” That’s where all the players flock together around the ball and seem to move up and down the field in that cluster. Once in a while one kid would break loose and make a run at the goal, only to stop when the goalie said, “Stop.”

Obviously, this was not a team intent on winning a championship.

9 thoughts on “Who’s Turn is it to Kick?”

  1. I remember those days. In my family it was Cub Scout baseball. For a while we couldn’t get any of the dads to coach, so I, being a responsible Cub Scout den mother, finally stepped up and volunteered. Overnight, the dads were crawling out from under their rocks, just to make sure their darling boys weren’t coached by a woman.

  2. Ah yes, the frantic days of soccer. My daughters all played at one time or another. I was a single father trying to work and get my girls to practices and games and parties. It was all rushing around and the excitement of the games, especially at tournaments. We were so busy and then all of a sudden they are grown and gone and now I got my evenings and Saturdays free again–at least til I have some grandkids playing.

  3. LOL, that was MY life, too! And it never stops. Tonight we’re going to watch one grandson play soccer, and tomorrow we’ll watch our 3 year old play for the first time. Thing is, he’s young but knows what soccer is about. His mom started at 4 and has been playing for 29 years. Played college, did the olympic development thing…you name it, she did it when it came to soccer. She was known all over San Diego County for her goalkeeping skills. Sadly, constant injuries to her body stopped her from going professional.

    I love soccer stories. I hope you have more.

  4. Thanks for stopping by everyone. I have enjoyed your soccer experiences. We went through soccer with our kids and then our grandkids and I miss it now.
    I’ll post a little more from this chapter the next time I do an excerpt on my blog.

  5. Maryann,
    Your post made me long for the good ol’ days – sort of.

    I’ve never heard of “chicken soccer”, but “magnet ball” was big, where all the kids clustered together and chased the ball in one big group.

    One of my boys was small and timid yet smart–he never got in to the magnet cloud, figuring that eventually the ball had to escape the crowd, and he would get it then.

    Thanks for the fun post!

  6. This is great! Thanks for posting it! I can remember several times where Michael and David both had some major soccer wounds, including but not limited to broken bones and sprained body parts. I’m sure that must have been fun for you as a mom! 😉

  7. Jenny Lee, I like the idea of calling it “magnet” soccer. Does give a good image.

    And, Clint, you are right, the injuries brought a whole different dimension to the game, but both of the boys – and I use the term loosely – are still playing the game. Luckily, I am no longer responsible for taking care of them when they are hurt.

  8. When I played basketball in elementary school we had trouble keeping a coach. On some days we went through the routines ourselves. We knew what to do. Of course, the lack of a coach during practice manifested on Saturday morning games.

    Stephen Tremp

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