Soccer pretty much dominated our lives between August and November. Every year I tell myself I can survive anything for two months, but man, having four kids play soccer while the hubby is not really available is sure a commitment of love and endurance. I had a few "ah-ha" moments this year. First, I learned that I love watching my kids compete. I am that soccer mom. And I embrace it! I'm hooping and hollering on the sidelines, cheering my heart out and on pins and needles in the moments of stress. I love being there for my kids and want them to look back and remember that I was always there, in their corner, supporting everything they did. Secondly, when we first started playing sports a few years ago, I thought I wanted laid back coaches who just want the kids to have fun. And we've had great experiences with those coaches through the years, but this year, both Eli and Sariah (and Liam for that matter!) ended up on really competitive teams. Both of them ended up making it to the final championship game for our league. Neither team was victorious, which taught even greater lessons about the pain of defeat, and being good sports even when we loose. In the end though, having a coach who wants to win, for a least Sariah and Eli (every kid is different, after all) allowed them to grow so much in their soccer skills. Coaches who want to win instill an incredible work ethic in their players. They're hard on them, and expect a great deal, but isn't that what life's all about anyway? Giving 100% in all we do? Following through, working hard, not giving up, constantly seeking to improve. Competitive coaches also are improving in their coaching regularly because their desire to win drives their instruction. In the end, we loved our competitive experience this year! It also felt good to finally be on a team that didn't loose every game. Lastly, I learned that children crave to be independent, and love it when you trust them. With our busy schedules there were a lot of nights where Eli and Sariah had to ride their bikes home after practice. We bought a cell phone in case of emergency, but they loved having a little freedom and they rose to the occasion to prove their trustworthiness. I sure love my kids!
Meilani had a rough season this year. Her team played indoor (which made taking pictures quite difficult). She grew a great deal as a player and was a real leader on her team, but it seemed that the two teams in our league weren't evenly distributed and Meilani's team never had a chance of winning. Her coach was a nice guy, but rarely showed up to practice or games, so Meilani was a bit frustrated. She did get a lot of exercise and enjoyed the friendships she developed with the girls on her team, however. She played goalie a bit this year, and was a great defender!
Ammon, usually a good sport as we traipsed from soccer field to soccer field.
Eli had a great season. He became a much more aggressive player this year and was a great support to his team. He loved going to practice and his games and always played his heart out. His coach was great at letting the kids try different positions. Everyone rotated through, which I liked. Most of the time Eli played forward or defender which he really excelled at. He made quite a few goals this season and is already looking forward to playing next year.
One weekend I decided to squeeze in Seth's birthday party on the fly and forgot that Eli had a soccer game at the same time. Ben was at school and I was so upset with myself for not keeping my schedule straight. I talked to Eli and explained my predicament I told him that Seth was so excited for his party but that I could try to reschedule it if he wanted me to. My sweet boy said "It's okay mom, I'll just ride my bike to my game. You've been to all my other games, you need to have Seth's party." I was so relieved and comforted that such a young boy could understand the plight of his mother, and be so selfless and loving. Love this boy!
Sariah, our little athlete, is really quite spectacular on the soccer field. She is so in her element, and just "gets it." She has the competitive drive that I've decided she was born with. I don't think you can teach it. She played goalie a lot and was quite serious about the game. There was only one other girl on her team who was brand new to soccer and at the beginning of the season her coach would pair her up with Sariah a lot at practice. After a couple weeks Sariah told me that she wanted to be paired up with the boys because they were good like her!
I know this picture is blurry, but it shows how into the game she is. She was upset about a poor play her team made.
She had quite the incredible drop kick!
At the final championship game Sariah's team was up 2 to 1 and her team was playing defense right up against the goal. She wasn't playing goalie at the time, but her goalie instincts set in when the ball came right to her and she bent down and grabbed the ball. She realized what she did right away, but her coach reassured her that it was okay. The other team got a penalty kick and tied up the game, then Sariah got put in as goalie, and in the final minute, the other team got a goal past her. As soon as the whistle blew, my poor girl first burst in to laughter, I think as a nervous reaction. Then when our eyes met and I put out my arms for a hug, she burst into tears. It was a pretty sad moment for her as she felt the weight of the loss on her shoulders, but her coaches were awesome and so reassuring. Her team really gave it their all! Realizing that she had time to run over and catch the last half of her first basketball game offered some consolation. When we got there, she made two lay ups in the final two quarters. She's so awesome.
Liam's team didn't keep score, but don't tell his coach that! Our good friend Aaron coached Liam again this year. He's pretty competitive himself and kept score at every game and was pleased to announce at our team party that we were undefeated. Liam had a blast playing and loved keeping track of how many goals he made because I made an agreement at the beginning of the season that I'd pay $1 per goal. Every time he made a goal he'd make eye contact with me and hold up one finger. Too cute!
Sweet Ammon, just wanted to play so bad. Probably the most challenging part of the games was keeping him off the fields!
Showing off his Lightening Tiger growl. The dentist recently asked me how he chipped his teeth, and I think this might be how!