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.
“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.
oh, as it relates to having a camera, snapping the shutter and all that, it stands to reason (and don’t think about this too hard because you will go mad) that kabillions of great images are missed daily because we didn’t bother getting the camera from the car for whatever reason. when i think of some of history’s greatest moments I am always thankful in many instances someone was there with a camera and decided to “click.”
anyway, that is a windy opening for me saying that the boy scored his first Varsity goal as a Freshman and I didn’t get a picture of it. call it lazy, call it me having too many dark, blurry 10 p.m. shots from too far away to have much confidence in shooting these night time matches, either way, i didn’t get it. but i will always have it in my mind as will he. it wasn’t anything particularly breathtaking as a soccer play. the keep had a deflected ball coming at him from on high, really high about 15 yards straight up and the boy went at the keeper and he bobbled it and the boy put his head over it and pounded it down at the floor of the net. but it wouldn’t have been any better if it was any different. it was his first and so for today, it was his best. and in the end, who needs a picture of that? it’s living inside. us, both. i know how hard he has worked to try and make a difference on his team.
one of my favorite moments of the freshman experience. at all the home varsity soccer matches, the team must arrive in khaki pants and the soccer polo shirt to the fields, walk to the locker room and dress for the match. the also wear this same outfit to school on home game days. this photo captures the first home game as we got to the parking lot. all nerves, ball #19, phone, bag and proper attire.
being confident in one set of circumstances does not mean much in another set. finding it (confidence) in what you do as a whole is something that takes time, maybe a whole lifetime or maybe you are destined to always harbor shards of self-doubt. grass, ball, touch, and a sharp mind are protection from those shards.
now, go put a finish where you have made your beginning.
when you get your opportunity, you don’t waste it, you make your run. hope you find a finish. soccer is life.
lafayette #19 runs on the corner kick.
it’s one of the oldest cliches in the world really, “you have to have goals!” it’s a mantra that is delivered to kids day in and day out as we try and give them a reason to want more, to achieve more, to do those things we didn’t, wouldn’t or probably, couldn’t do. this cliche is never more overused than when putting kids into a competitive sports environment. it’s as if adults have unlocked the key to athletic prowess and that key is the act of setting goals. i’m no different, totally guilty of these mindless cheerleading sessions that are meant to motivate, sure, but also some sort of batch of statements you make that cement your place as “parent” by extoling some life-lesson we assume a child is too simple to pick-up on his own and i guess we also take for granted that we are telling a kid something that a coach, trainer or any number of feel-good stories that accompany Olympic, NCAA, or just about any other sports broadcasts have failed to mention.
so, then after you have asked a kid to have some goals, to work hard, to do their best, to strive to blah, blah, blah and they do some of those things and they begin to achieve goals they have set for themselves…then what? do we just follow along the same path, again? do we just say, “hey, good job, set some more goals and go get those and do things and stuff and succeed and go, fight win!”? there’s got to be something more we do right? i ask because athletically, academically and even socially i see that goals were set by the boys in my life and they met some of them and they are still growing, changing and maturing and sure, not all of their goals have been met and hopefully they have a stack of truly great things they want to get to in their lives, but how to you nurture a willingness to succeed? and is a large percentage of it totally out of a parent’s hands, my gut says to some extent, yes. you hope you have somehow given them enough to be self-motivated or that just their resentment of your blathering on and on about goals is annoying enough that they are motivated just to shut you up.
either way, here’s to a boy who has had some goals for himself on the soccer field. he achieved one by playing high school soccer in 7th grade and another over the weekend by starting on the Varsity team as a Freshman. i don’t think he’s done setting or achieving yet–but i won’t take any credit for either. he’s doing it. i’m just trying to take some pictures as it happens.
varsity tackle. Saturday, August 10.