08 April 2008

I can't find the instruction manual

Reckon if I had three more kids, I'd have all the answers? The Big Kid ice skated when she was young; she was an only child until she was 15 and I had plenty of time. The Nice Kid, whose father is six foot five, appears to be attempting to give him a run for his money. She's 12, 5'6" and 145 pounds. She plays whatever sport her friends are playing and is extremely interested in the color of the uniforms, where the team party is, and if we're all going to the Mexican restaurant after the game.

Then, there's The Not Nice Kid and I'm out of my league here. I used to run 10K's. I used to work out, but I was never an athlete. I never participated in team sports...truth be told, in the 1970's around here there weren't any girl's teams. And now I have this female child who has been competing with the ten-year-old boys since she was seven. Years old. In more than one sport. And I've been thrown a curve ball and I don't know what to do. Last year, her soccer team went into the last game tied for first place. They lost, but that's not bad for a seven year old girl, on a ten-year-old's team. This year? Somehow, in the grand scheme of things and with a new program director, she is on a ten-year-old's soccer team that includes two seven year olds...who have never played soccer. Ever. Plus a needs-to-be-medicated boy who spends most of practice in time-out.

Turns out, the coaches drew names, selected the teams based on ability, and then went in and "adjusted." For the kids who needed to ride with each other. For the kids who wanted certain coaches. For the kids who couldn't be at practice until a certain time. And we ended up with this pitiful team, which has one A-ranked player (TNNK). And another team which has NINE TEN-YEAR-OLD BOYS.

This is going to be a massacre. And while The Nice Kid wouldn't ever give it a thought, The Not Nice Kid lives to kick sports-ass. She practices. She works at it. She listens to the coaches. She comes home and, on her own, practices her mistakes over and over so that she doesn't make them again. And after last week's comedy-of-errors practice, she announced she'd rather not play. She was nearly physically ill from carrying the team...she scored all the goals. She made all the saves. She ran the ball down the field, scored, then took it away from the other team and did it again.

They are going to lose every game this season, because a bunch of adults can't add. Or don't care. If I let her drop out, I'm not teaching a very good lesson. If she plays, she won't go back next season. She will work all season long, and have nothing to show for the entire time except a lot of hard work and frustration and what kind of lesson is that? I told her we had to go back this week but part of me...wait, at this point, most of me...agrees with her. This wasn't an "accident," this was an inexperienced director and a bunch of greedy coaches. Which I don't want to be. But I want there to be at least a level playing field! Or no....not even level but I think she ought to have a chance.

Please, God. Don't let me be a soccer mom. But please, God. Let me help this difficult child learn how to navigate.

Or else give me thicker skin.

2 comments:

Melissa said...

Ok. I *am* a Soccer Mom, so I can help you here.

It sounds like you need to find her a different league. You need to stop playing in the rec leagues and do the select thing. Usually that doesn't start until 4th or 5th grade, but if she is talented and really wants to do it, then they'll probably let her.

It's probably too late for the spring season (our spring season is almost over, but then again I live in TX where we don't have a winter). But maybe you could let her scout a practice and tell her that if she sticks with it, then she can do this in the fall.

I googled "alabama select soccer huntsville" and got hits on a couple of clubs. And they had a '99 select girls team. That's probably where you need to be. Of course I'm just guessing you are in or near Huntsville.

http://www.huntsvillesoccerclub.org/

This is probably waaay more than you wanted. But it would be a shame to let her give up because of one bad season.

Good luck!

Country Girl said...

You hit it all. Huntsville is (at least) 60 miles away. That way. Their school is 30 miles away. This way. The logistics say...it's possible. Not practical. We did it again last night...I made her go to practice. There are two kids on this U10 team who...DO NOT KNOW HOW TO THROW THE BALL IN. They played cluster soccer, just like five year olds. You start, you finish. That's life. That's my theory, as of this morning. After that? She plays basketball with the ten year olds, and tennis with the 12-13 year olds. We'll manage. (The mom says as she debates huervo rancheros for breakfast so she can have a beer.)