I’m a soccer Mom. I’ve got the whole package going on. And I’ve got it x3. Coffee thermos? Check. Spiritwear? Check. Folding chair? Check. Blanket? Check. Sunscreen? Usually, check. Until a year ago I even had the dreaded mini-van (in truth though, I loved it, buttons to open doors? Yes please!). I’ve logged hundreds of hours and miles in the car and on the sidelines of soccer fields from Kentucky to Illinois. Practices went from Wixom and Livonia to Trenton, a 30 mile radius around our home. I don’t even want to begin to total the amount of money we’ve spent over the last 12 years. Pretty sure we could have opened up our own 7-11 franchise with it. Which incidentally could have saved us money with as many times as we’ve stopped for slurpees after practices and games. You may call us crazy. Go ahead, it probably was (and is) to a certain extent. 3 boys, who at one point were in 3 different travel soccer clubs. Thank God for carpools, we never would have made it this far.
We didn’t set out to be a soccer obsessed family. We just wanted to expose the boys to new things, get outside, be one with nature and all that shit. At age 4, we took Riley first to the city soccer league. I remember it well. He went out on the field. He cried. We went home. Maybe next year. Then we saw kids playing in the school field across the street season after season. When the boys were old enough, we signed them up for that free soccer program. Alex and Matthew both started when they were 3, Riley when he was 5 (he didn’t cry this time). It was easy, we walked across the street, they ran around on a small field with kids who had no idea what they are doing either, for an hour or so. Then they played games on Saturdays where there were 2 teams of kids who had no idea what they were doing. It was World Cup level skill, and we cheered accordingly. Kids would sit down on the field, walk off, cry, only play if they were holding the coaches hand, pee, stand still for the whole game. It was like shooting fish in a barrel to see that MY sons had REAL talent in this bunch of yahoos.
But, in the interest of getting our kids to try out different sports, we took them to the driving range, went bowling, took them ice skating, etc. None really stuck, although Matthew was a natural skater, he even played hockey for a year, it was great! We loved the change of pace, change of scenery, new kids, new parents and Matthew was fun to watch. The cost, again, not so fun. But when it came down to it, he couldn’t play both at the same time, our schedules just wouldn’t allow it. He picked soccer. Oh well.
Riley played one season of t-ball when he was about 7. Aside from the birth of my healthy children, the day Riley said he didn’t want to play baseball was the happiest day of my life. Voluntary root canals, mammograms, and dog bites rank higher in enjoyment than watching highly unskilled kids play baseball. I admit, we very purposefully never asked the other 2 if they wanted to play. Evil, I know, but I can still sleep at night. I like watching the Tigers play, there ends my baseball attention span.
I played a LOT of different sports growing up. I started out in gymnastics with my sister. She stayed there thru high school, I moved onto ice skating, bowling leagues, tennis, golf, and volleyball. I very proudly wear the award of Varsity Athlete of my senior class with 7 varsity letters. I still play golf and tennis to this day, skills you never really lose, I am only limited by my agility and high cholesterol. Brendan also played a variety of sports as a kid, including soccer. My parents were not crazy (with regard to sports anyway), at least not that I remember. So I guess that means it’s a personality flaw. Or personality flair. That sounds better. I hope my kids branch out when they are older, I let that fall under that category of “they are my kids, but they are not me.” But like I said, we didn’t set out with our sights on ONLY soccer for our kids, it just kinda…happened.
So how do crazy soccer Moms rank with other sports’ crazy Moms? A dubious distinction exists, no doubt.
As the secretary to the Athletic Director in a middle school, I deal with all sorts of sports and sports parents, mostly tangentially, but boy I’ve heard stories, from ALL sports. Hockey, softball, volleyball, cheer, basketball, swimming, you name it, there will be crazy parents lurking close by. (Not so much track or cross country though, wonder what their problem is? They must not love their child as much as other parents. Crazy=Love). I think I know where the crazy stems from…At one point or another, we’ve all thought “MY kid is the one. MY kid is special. MY kid is going pro.” And for some infinitesimally small percentage of the parents out there, those are true statements. We’ve all seen the statistics about how many athletes go on to compete at a professional level. The odds are not forever in your favor. But that does not stop parents from going ape-shit when their kid is not getting the attention they so clearly deserve or has been wronged by a vision impaired referee. All in all, the level of crazy across sporting parents is fairly level I think, which is strikingly similar to Defcon 3.
I am guilty. I’ve been talked to by a coach and was reprimanded by a referee, but in my defense, it was a “Mom group” disciplinary talking to. I claim mob mentality breakdown. I’ve gotten better over the years, not quite as loud, not quite as belligerent. 2 things have helped: aligning myself with parents who are louder and crazier than me and medication. Brendan tries his best to keep me in check, but when I see my son go flying through the air from an illegal hit, I admit, my Mom instinct flows thru me like Indian food after taking Correctol. I want blood and I want the 16 year old Assistant Referee to get it for me. I never get it. Surprisingly, yelling things at the other team or the referees does not change their behavior. I will continue to try and better myself. Promise.
At the center of it, we just love our kids, want to see them play a fair and fun game and don’t want them to get hurt in the process. Oh, and win. We want them to win. Anyone that tells you different is lying. I always want my kids to give their best effort, no matter the outcome, but winning is just more enjoyable. I have a shit-ton of participation ribbons and trophies and medals for my kids, but the ones that say “Champion” just sparkle a little bit more, I’m not ashamed to say that. I’d always rather be celebrating than giving my son a consolation Mom hug. Emotionally speaking, after travel soccer comes playing for the High School team, which is a whole new level of wistfulness for me. I can’t talk about that just yet.
I don’t regret being a soccer Mom. It’s a role I just kinda stumbled into and did my best. We made some missteps along the way, but over all, I think my kids are better off having experienced life in the world of club soccer. The friendships my boys have formed are monumental. And so are the ones I’ve been lucky enough to find in the chaos that is travel soccer (insert any other club sport as necessary). Traveling to tournaments, sitting outside in snow and ice and rain or the blistering heat, driving 2 hours one way for a 1 hour game, only to discover your adorable little boy forgot his soccer cleats, crying on the sidelines because the other team is crushing your son’s team and making fun of the beat down so loudly that everyone on the field can hear, crying because your son didn’t make the A team–again, beaming because your son made the winning goal, it’s all part and parcel of a soccer Mom’s ride. I wouldn’t trade a crazy second of it.