I love soccer. I love watching it on TV. I loved every second I played growing up. It was the only sport that just “stuck” with me and it was the sport I was always best at. But…
I’ll be honest, I didn’t really want my girls to play soccer.
Throughout my 20 something years of playing, I had a knack for running my mouth off to refs, coaches and other players that often times got me in trouble. I’ll chalk it up to being super competitive. In the same sense, you could always find my dad at my games, roaming the sidelines, cheering for the me and the team, but also yelling at the refs and doing his fair share of “strong parental coaching” from the stands. My dad was just as competitive on the sideline being a fan as I was on the field, but his booming voice carried so well, that it was usually the only voice I’d hear. I knew that if the girls ever played soccer, I’d be just like him only not as loud, but more competitive. I had this vision of myself being the parent that pushed their kid so hard they hated playing.
I also didn’t want the girls to play soccer just because I played. I never want to be the parent who tries to relive their youth vicariously through their children, forcing them to do stuff they don’t want to do just because I want them to do it. I want them to find their “thing” and love it without my help. Yes, I will always be there to support them and help guide their decisions, but I won’t be the one who makes their decisions for them. My parents always managed to find that right balance between allowing me to try new sports (and quit them if I hated it), but never forcing me to play or keep playing just because they liked it or wanted me to. I appreciated that and wanted to give the girls the same choice.
That’s why, when Tracey told me she wanted to get Hudson into soccer I was hesitant. I understood where she was coming from, getting her involved in team sports and all the great lessons that are learned through playing with others, sharing, working hard, etc. But I wanted Hudson to want to play soccer. Fortunately she did.
Once she was signed up I really started to get excited. To go out and get her shoes, shinguards, socks, shorts and a new ball. I even hooked her up with one of my old soccer bags to carry her stuff in. This was going to be fun.
She was just as pumped up about playing and got even more excited when she found out one of her classmates (Brooke) from school was on her team and was going to be playing with her. I think that really made her more comfortable about going. We asked Elle if she wanted to play and she said “no,” so we didn’t force it. I had a feeling Elle might want to play once she saw Hudson playing, but so far, she’s fine with being a fan.
Sadly I missed her first game, but she absolutely loved it. She said her coach was proud of her for stealing the ball from the other team and I couldn’t have been more proud. Most importantly, she had fun and wanted to go back. I was there for her next game and it was awesome. My dad and I stood on the sidelines (scariest cheering section ever) and cheered for her and her team, and laughed as they fumbled around the field, following the ball like a swarm of flies.
I left that game feeling really good about Huds getting out there and playing. She has no fear on the field and will get in there and mix it up with any kid, no matter how big or small they are. She’s having fun, and that’s what’s ultimately most important. As long as she enjoys playing, I’ll be right there on the sidelines cheering her on and trying really hard not to yell at the refs for making a bad call. Trust me, that habit is going to be hard to break, but I’m going to try.