with the change of the seasons, the ball begins it’s roll towards goals. off feet, between legs, through the air–not always sure and true but never forgetful of the points that lie in wait.
another year of youth soccer wrapped this past weekend. around 2,200 miles logged through a half dozen states or so. long drives, cheap hotels, craft beers, KindTM bars, grapes, oranges, vegan pizzas, ugly socks and moments. moments of joyful play, painful losses, car naps, good songs and words. sometimes many, sometimes few. boys and pops. i know i am on a count down when it comes to these moments. they grow…UP. boy #1 is job searching, living out of town for stretches, talking about his next life and wants…#2 has school, girl, guitars and a slinging hash at the pool. changes (turn and face the strange). here’s to one less season of soccer, still a few more but i’m remembering to savor all the moments on the ball even if there is another one through.
it’s easy to mouth off in defiance, “ain’t nothing or no one gonna stop me from living my dreams…” but in reality just about everything is set-up in this life to do just that…stop you from living your dreams. but that is where you come in, have the determination to be your own person, set your own sights, and follow through on “you.” it’s gotten a little cliche’ but “you do you” isn’t such a bad message. do you, and push through, you can get there…where ever there is for you.
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.
this photo is a classic example as to why i’m just not really a good photographer. no patience, no willingness to watch the scene unfold through the viewfinder, no intellectual moxie when it comes to “the decisive moment.” i guess that is why there are always too many words to accompany the images around here. always searching to explain the context of my clicks of the shutter.
you see, without the context, this is just two boys running, in soccer strips, happily across the green grass. the photographer (me) is in the wrong position, behind them, missing the joy in their faces. i’m also too far away and the frame is basically uninviting. but when you know the context, or i should say, “because i know the context,” there’s something more to the image. this moment is part of a series of moments, some photographed, some not, that included sixty-eight and a half minutes of soccer, a struggle, falling behind, tying the score late and then a game winner before the 70th minute that secures promotion next season to the top league available for the team.
only seconds before this frame was captured, my boy managed to find the back of the net with 21 other boys crowded into the box. and with the goal, he sprinted out of the crowd towards the other end of the field in exaltation with teammates streaming behind. this shot captured him and the first kid to him on the sprint, touching his back in congratulations sure, but there’s so much more than just that. context–team, brotherhood, competition, battle, family, victory, relief it’s all there, i just didn’t do my job showing enough of it. but i assure you we both won’t forget the context, with or without the good photography to prove it.
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.