so after nearly 13 years of watching a boy kick around a ball, chapters of youth soccer, club soccer and high school come to an end. the final high school season saw his team “do better than they’ve ever done” only to end with a thud in a game they should have won and extended their season a bit more. it hurt, games hurt, even the good ones, the wins, they even leave marks.
accolades for a job done well. all-state second team, all-city first team, 4th in balloting for player of the year in lexington and i couldn’t be prouder. but i know he disappointed, plagued by more “grown-up” injuries, a low-back issues, pulled groin, sore hamstring, etc. at times just made it a win to be on the field. he’ll never understand how without him out there the team couldn’t have had the success they shared.
for a pop, there’s a dull pain, countless hours on the road, in shitty hotel rooms off the interstates in ohio, north carolina, tennessee, missouri, indiana, illinois, west virginia, virginia and kentucky. eating what vegetarian fare we could find in the middle of nowhere, laughing at youtube videos, giggling at funny walking locals and smiles, tears, cuss words and more than anything, so much love. i love the game, i love watching him play the game, i love how he was able to see that he was good at something, so therefore he might be able to be good at many things.
soccer leaves wounds and scars, the best kind.
happy birthday to this guy. sixteen he is, sixteen, oh no, it can’t be. has it been that long? i think he was seven in this picture, maybe six, but definitely not eight yet. doesn’t matter. i’m old, these boys are getting old, boyhood has escaped all of us involved. what happened to youth…mine anyway?
so yes, what a boy this boy has become. a young man indeed. so proud of what he does daily, the discipline, the insight to life, the empathy. i’m biased but he is one helluva kid. seriously, he has his own way of carrying himself that denotes a maturity that i’m not even sure i have. so, yeah, proud. pop.
so happy birthday, my boy #2. i hope i am around for about fifty more of these. my love to you always.
“Ultimately, sports are just about as close to what one would call the truth as it is possible to get in this world.” –Harry Crews
if you aren’t a fan of sport you probably think all the hyperbole about kinship, brotherhood and soldiers together in battle is just a bunch of nonsense that boys use to justify that somehow playing a game is an important task. having spent more than a little time watching boys play together as a team (i played a little myself even) it’s hard to deny the bond that grows amongst team mates. sure, it can at times be cliqueish, it can be ever-changing, and it doesn’t always happen for all kids. but i know for a fact that when boys go at a singular task together, and really, truly buy-in to caring about each other and have a willingness to fight as hard for their team mate as they would for themselves, that a connection is made that makes for a victory of spirit–that win or lose on the field–makes for pretty special trophies. sports ain’t for everybody, but they should be.
after a huge fall of soccer that included pulling double duty as a starting Varsity high school player as a freshman and helping the club team go undefeated in league play to make the jump up to the next level for spring, the spring has rolled into early summer with reward(s) for all the hard work. a cup, the U.S. Youth Soccer, Kentucky State Open Cup to be exact. for all the success in soccer, the trophies, the medals, the t-shirts, the atta-boys this item has been elusive. but no longer. great coaching, super commitment and a winning, positive mindset are all huge parts of this whirlwind run of the last 10 months. but it’s isn’t over yet…more for sure…
a quick tale of two boys who achieved the first part of a late spring/early summer goal. one (not pictured here) made it to NYC, as an intern at Hearst Publishing, settled into a room at NYC and will spend the next 3 months becoming something he wasn’t before he left Lexington. my heart is full for him. amazed at his guts and talent it took to get himself in the position to be there. he’s already won and doesn’t even know it. the second, pictured above, helped his team make it through the first round of the Kentucky State Cup. his team had a tremendous first weekend, executing 15 goals while giving up zero, zilch, nadda. he finished with a pair of goals and 3 assists on the weekend and some massive center midfield play in some important matches. so for a pair of boys, a nice weekend on the way to bigger missions as the summer progresses. forward they go. i just try and get a few pictures of it.
so many different scenarios during the struggle are what truly make it “the beautiful game.” it’s never just goals or magical touches, sometimes it’s just about strength, will and physics.
i don’t claim to be much more than a sports fan, i’m no expert on the intricacies of what it takes to be “next level” but i do think upon thoughtful study of sport, be it soccer, basketball, football, tennis, volleyball – you get the point – the ability to accurately anticipate opponents’ intentions is a requisite skill that separates “great” athletes from “good” athletes. youth soccer players with that ability to see the next play before it develops, then willing that play to develop are the game changers. it doesn’t happen at the same rate with young footballers, it’s a process to have a team get that mind-meld where they all begin to anticipate what’s next and react accordingly. i know as a fan, it’s sure fun to watch it come together. it’s art.
when you have the ball in soccer, basketball, football, well, in any sport where you have control of the ball and you dupe the opposition with a move, a fake, a feint and they fall for it…we call it “breaking ankles.” you know, like “hey, i just broke that kid’s ankles.”