We are a soccer family. Trillian played though university. I didn't play past elementary school, but spent a lot of time on soccer fields since one of my sisters played competitively. When I was teaching at a private school, I helped coach one of the teams. Scooter went to his first professional soccer game at about a month old. Over the past year, he has become enthusiastic about kicking a ball around.
We headed into the Spring with a choice of whether to sign Scooter up for the soccer league on a real team or a program aimed at younger kids. We went with the shorter, less competitive program. From the description, with its reassurances of being non-competitive and having only scrimmages, I thought that this would be the sort of low-pressure introduction Scooter could use.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. As soon as the coach ran a practice scrimmage, it became clear that there are parents on this team who have strong opinions about how quickly their children should be mastering new skills. And then it turned out that there were scheduled 'scrimmages' with other teams. Regardless of what they're called, they're games. No official scores are kept, but the kids are very aware of when one side has scored a disproportionate number of the goals.
The last game is this week, and I do not think Scooter will be asking to play soccer again any time soon. He has mostly enjoyed practices and is quite proud of himself for learning not to use his hands. But in game situations, when parents get the loudest and there are the greatest number of bodies converging on the ball, he would rather be some place else. This has taken a couple different forms. There was the game where he simply stood at midfield after the halfway point; the other team had scored many goals, one of his teammates was wailing inconsolably, and Scooter decided it just wasn't worth moving from the center. Then there was the game where he ran around, vaguely following the action, and kicking the sideline cones.
There is some question as to whether or not we'll even go to the final game. Scooter quit about halfway through the most recent practice and announced that he was done with soccer. Truthfully I wouldn't mind being done and not having to suffer through another session of yelling parents.
Somehow I think, if Scooter's going to develop a passion for any sport, it will be an individual sport. Probably one in which he won't be able to hear a lot of the yelling--cross country, swimming, golf. I'll whole-heartedly support him, whatever he pursues. Just quietly.