Okay, I have to admit that I never used to like soccer. My kids may strike me dead for saying that, but it's true. I was always a basketball, volleyball person. So, when I ended up marrying one of the best soccer players in Maquixco, Mexico---I realized my nonchalance towards soccer had come to an end. Watching George fly around the field and score goal after goal may have had something to do with it. He was spectacular to watch---agility and grace wrapped in a nice-looking package. He had the opportunity to try out for one of the mexican teams, but he didn't go---why, you ask? Because we moved back up here to basketball-crazed Berlin, got married, and started a family. George's dreams of a soccer career trailed along behind us, like an umbilical cord that hadn't quite been cut, finally drying up and falling off. Our kids were born, and started growing up. Belle played one year of park district soccer in first grade, but didn't like it because they were mixed with the boys. Selena took to soccer right away, and played from first grade. Selena is a natural, and has a kick that could knock you flat over. Hunter plays soccer too, and gets right in there.
Belle played volleyball from 5th grade up until 10th grade. The summer before her sophomore year we traveled to Mexico. The world cup was going on and futbol fever was so tangible you could cut it with a knife. We huddled around small tv's out in the street to watch every game that Mexico played. All the adults and kids played soccer out in the rocky fields until they could play no more. George was in his glory playing with his kids, although his ankle hindered him some. Selena and Hunter were having the time of their life. And Belle, I could see, had been taken over--body and soul--by the soccer bug. She contemplated quitting volleyball that year, but in the end decided to play one more year. She got through it, and by the end of that season told the coaches she was quitting to play soccer next year.
Thus, my life of total soccer immersion has begun. Starting in the spring the kids, including Hunter, went to every soccer open gym they held at Hiland. They were like kids possessed. George, who had never pushed ANY of his kids to play anything, let alone soccer, started to see what was happening. He was quiet at first, but slowly started to give them more and more tips, and start playing with them daily in the backyard. They begged him to play with them, and so evening upon evening of banging the ball around in the backyard started. Banging the ball in the house, on every wall we owned. I had to yell for some order because they were starting to knock things off the wall. Well, it wasn't that bad, but they do kick in the house, just not in the air!
So, last week soccer conditioning for Belle began. Selena doesn't start until Sept, same with Hunter. She came home sweaty, dirty, and with the most foul smell covering her that I've every smelled. She just smiled and said she'd never been happier. She said she wasn't sure why she stuck with volleyball for so long. "Are you sad, Mom, because I quit volleyball?"...for volleyball had been my sport..."No way", I said, "As long as you love what you're doing you can do anything!"..... So as practice started this week, a new angle of her life had begun. One she seems to love intensely. One all of my kids seem to love. One I'm sure, has made their Dad smile inside, even though he won't show it.
So, as we prepare for long evenings of sitting on the sidelines and screaming for the kids, I feel very happy. Not happy because they are playing sports. But happy because they are doing what they love. Each one of my three kids has fallen into what they want to do. It's a natural progression of the falling away of things that don't interest them. Sometimes it's things that we did when we were young, sometimes it's not. For it's their lives, not ours. They have to do what brings their senses alive, what brings those dreams to the surface. I smile when George and Belle talk about soccer and what she can do to improve. It's making their relationship better, a relationship that has been marked, at times, with hard things and too many emotions. It's bringing them closer. What father wouldn't want to be closer to their 16 year old daughter at a time in her life when it's all about drama.
So, think of us as we go to up to 6 games a week. This will be the busiest season of our lives, and I wouldn't change a thing. They'll too soon be gone......