Category Archives: soccer

Stop Stealing Dreams: What Are Sports For?

Seth Godin wrote a manifesto called Stop Stealing Dreams: What is School For? and it was shared millions of times. He spoke at TedxYouth about the future of education, how we reward kids, and what we can do better. Both posts are worth diving into.

I love athletics. I know this doesn’t surprise you 🙂

So many life lessons.

It’s a shame more kids don’t get the chance to experience them.

My competitive streak still comes out when I’m running and have to catch that guy in front of me, when I’m sprinting down the soccer field and just can’t get there quite as easily as before, or when my children play the long-standing rival.

With age, sore knees, and raising children, perspective grows. When your child plays, there’s an opportunity to reflect on the point of it all.

Growing up I accepted the “cuts,” the “sorry, you’re not good enoughs,” the “varsity players vs. the junior varsity players” because, well, I didn’t get cut. (I considered it a shame math class didn’t make cuts.)

Until one day I did get cut. I was 15 and willing to quit track to wear a Westside cheerleading uniform. Rejection was a phone call. “Sorry, you didn’t make it.” As I sat gloomily in the kitchen, I imagined my try-out buddy getting picked up by all the popular senior cheerleaders and celebrated with vaseline in her hair, marker on their face, and other humiliations. Lucky! 

My mother considers this a blessing.

I was cut again in college. The list was posted outside the cross-country coach’s door after a grueling run on a freezing cold Idaho morning before the sun was even up. No conversation, just my name missing from the posted list.

That was TWENTY YEARS ago this fall and I can still feel the sting. I can still smell the cold Idaho air and the faint whiff of cow. I can still see the stars that twinkled on that morning. I can still remember what I prayed for…God, please let me run fast, please let me make this team. Please help me run my best.

I didn’t.

This is the stuff that stays with you.

Alas, not everyone can play or run on a college level, but by that time I could scrape my dreams off the Idaho track and keep going.

But for the kid who gets cut too early? That’s stealing dreams.

DSC_0407That’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for a high level of play.

That’s also not to say there shouldn’t be tiers.

But for every kid who wants to play, let them play.

This fall, Cope tried out for the girls varsity team soccer team. She was so scared she almost bailed. I pushed. Don’t not do it because you’re scared. That’s something you’ll always regret. 

After a week of a grueling two-a-day preseason, her name was on the list. “I can’t believe I made it,” she said, dazed. She’s young. She acknowledges she has to work on her ball handling.

You know why she made the team? The coach rewarded her preseason “hustle.”

Life lesson = guts matter. Grit trumps talent. Hard works = dreams come true.

I weep. I thank my lucky stars for such a coach.

AliciaslidesThis isn’t Cope – it’s Alicia. And it’s just a sweet shot. Um, you want to talk about grit and lessons on the field?

DSC_0413I love this photo. When Cope was devastated after a game (she’s incredibly hard on herself) this awesome team rallied.

(you wouldn’t believe how much begging I had to do for Cope to let me post this pic:)

Mentorship, compassion, kindness, love, courage, resilience

Life lessons right there on the soccer field

nelson And then there’s this guy. Lucky boy, he got his mom for a coach this year. (And once again I feel terrible because it’s really hard to coach and get good pictures of him.)

This year was a life-changing year. All summer he worked his tail off. He was obsessed with the world cup and Messi, watched his Youtube soccer videos, read about “the greatest soccer player in the world,” inspired that Messi is only 5’7.”

He practiced and practiced and practiced. He was never without a soccer ball. Okay, he did sleep. Once.

He started playing with me at summer soccer. Gerry, a boy’s varsity soccer captain went out of his way to make my boy feel good about his game. Free, life-changing mentorship.

In one summer my Nellie Mak was a tremendously better player, impacting the start of his eighth grade year. He had momentum. His confidence blossomed. He became a leader.

In our little town, at our little middle school, we don’t make cuts. And even though it creates some logistical headaches, everyone plays no matter the skill level.

But there are thousands of kids just like my son that get cut from their school team. So sad.

DSC_0074This year I had 30 kids. With only 11 kids that can play on the field at one time, is this a challenge? Uh, yeah.

Did we have the best year ever? Yep.

Do I want to keep all of these kids? YES. A million times yes.IMG_5537Because if there is one thing I’ve learned as a teacher and a coach, it’s this: human beings are remarkable. They’re ability will constantly surprise you.

DSC_0002With enough hustle, grit, and a little athletic ability mixed in, the kid who never played soccer before becomes a solid high school recruit.

For kids, athletics starts out as fun. But coaches are fired because they don’t “win.”

What are sports for?

What if we approached athletics as a learning environment, where attitude and effort counted as much as height and natural strength?

Seth Godin says, “When you’re six years old and you try out for the hockey team, only two things are going to get you picked ahead of the others: either you’re older (it’s true, check this out) or you were born with size or speed or some other advantage that wasn’t your choice.”

A seventh grader recently told me, “Adults say that winning doesn’t matter, but that’s always the first thing they ask – did you win?”

As a coach, I always try to remember: soccer is so great because it’s so FUN. Because it’s hard. Because it requires so much mental and physical effort. Because you get to play with a TEAM – those that are better than you and those you are better than. You get to make plays, learn to do the Maradona – you get to kick something! How FUN is that?

DSC_0041Some of my kids who I thought just weren’t very good last year showed up this year and they suddenly KNEW HOW TO PLAY SOCCER. All that dreaming over the summer, brain development, growing and kicking and running and world cup analysis. Coordination improved, dribbling clicked, bones, muscles, balance, the ability to see the field, anticipation – all of these things take time.

If I had cut them last year?

“What if we celebrated the students who regularly try the hardest, help each other the most and lead? What if we fast tracked those students, and made it clear to anyone else willing to adopt those attitudes that they could be celebrated too?”

IMG_5358Can’t you see their potential? 🙂

As a side bonus for coaching, you’ll get to ride THE BUS! Forget the field, this is really how you get to know a kid. I would tell you about “secret circle,” but sorry, I’m sworn to secrecy. Anyway, you probably don’t want to know.DSC_0697Our last game season was a friendly match-up on the turf, under the lights. It was the culmination of a near-perfect season. Lucky, lucky us – TURF! Screaming fans! All our dreams came true!DSC_0147Here’s my Brynnie-the-Pooh. She loves the game so much she laughs when she dribbles. DSC_0189Soccer makes stars shine in her eyesbrynne1 DSC_0230 DSC_0171 Perhaps you’ve heard me mention a few times how much I love this game?DSC_0417 And this guy. He just happened to come walking across my camera lens!DSC_0137The youngest roams during all these game. I hope she loves soccer some day, too. Right now she’s soft, sweet, and easily wounded. She could go either way. It depends on what kind of experience she has at an early age. I hope it’s a good one. Please don’t steal her dreams.

Recently Julia wrote of the origin of the word “compete.” We often connect compete with battle. Beat, destroy, annihilate, kill.

It really means:

compete: verb from Latin competere to seek together, from Latin com- petere  to come together, agree, to go to

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we saw team sports that way? Seek together. You’re right, Julia, that sounds so much better than “attack.”

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The Start of it All

hay

We said our good-byes to late night summer nights and jumped right into fall. What a leap! We are busy going from one thing to the next. Before school could start however, we had some shopping to do.

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Paige found some beautiful mushroom accoutrements and Brynne found this…she was not impressed. I can’t even write the word I detest it so much. Anyway, we did not purchase the lovely little undergarment for my fifth grader.

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Mama managed to get one more soccer game in – in the pouring rain!

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To get pumped up for his last year in middle school, Nelson watched Rocky IV. My brother, Eric, waxed poetic about the great cinematic creation and ended the tribute with…”I’m not ashamed to admit I wiped a tear from my eye while writing that.” As you can see, we take our sports seriously.

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And then we really were off to school. Cope was inside eating bacon when I took the annual school photo. The tradition of four darlings in a row is totally ruined. On the first day, Nelson and Brynne scampered off to find friends, but at least there is one who still allows a photo with her mama. I’m including her shoes here because she wore these the first week. A little worn, but still perfectly good shoes, wouldn’t you agree?

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One of her friends though, deemed them unacceptable. “Ew,” she said. “Get some new shoes. Ew. Get some new clothes. You’re supposed to wear new clothes on the first day.” After school, Paige frowned while telling the story, but she later decided someone must have been having a bad day in second grade 🙁

Brynne, however, got her some fancy shmancy shoes.

And picture 3 is included because Mom is DETERMINED to pack snacks the night before school.

I’m already failing. I can’t do it. It’s a wretched late-night task. Can’t a girl just watch Jack Bauer without thinking about carrot sticks and applesauce?

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As the youngest, Paige does a lot of waiting around for siblings. Here she rolls around the floor waiting at Brynne’s eye appointment. I was wondering if it was socially acceptable to do the same. She got back at me by getting strep throat this week so I had to wait on her.

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Before school started for eldest child, we trotted to the big city so I could get those red Bean boots I’ve been drooling over. Now that I’m teaching a class on campus, I can justify such purchases, no? Red galoshes are probably not what you stylish urban dwellers wear, but come on, they’re red!

Well. Apparently, I am not allowed to simply TIE the shoelace. I have to do this thing curly-cue thing on the end and leave it untied. After my first effort, Cope shook her head sadly. “Oh, honey, no.” She really called me honey. And then a daughter tied her mother’s shoe. We have now come full circle. Sniff.

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After school, these are my peeps. Oh my goodness, what a TEAM we have! I love them so much. Our skills are mad good, sure, but we are also KIND and SUPPORTIVE. Ah, the athletic field; one of the best classrooms in life.

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Putting up the nets

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I am now back to being the bag lady: snacks, Barbies, water, shoes, dolls, pencils, gum, soccer lesson plans, whistle, dog treats?

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Cope has been playing some intense soccer as she tries out for the varsity team. Before school officially started she spent a week living at Hogwarts in the dormitory! Away from ME!

We had many text exchanges.

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My children love my compassionate, nurturing, texting tone.

Now tell me, are you off and running, too???

 

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For the Love of Fall. And Soccer.

With all six family members involved in soccer this fall, it was a bit.insane.and wonderful.  There is nothing like being out on the soccer field late afternoon with the sun hitting your face, leaves falling, balls hitting your face…no really, it’s grand.
This year I coached my son’s co-ed 7th and 8th grade team of 30 kids: 6 girls, 24 boys.  We practiced everyday after school.  And did a lot of push-ups.  I feel very badly that this is the only picture I took.  Not one picture of my boy playing soccer. And this isn’t even his shoe. Oh dear.  I was so busy on the sideline that I never pulled out the camera.  Now the memory of boy on field is lost forever…except in my mind. Which is you know, iffy. 
 
Next year I shall be better. They can handle their own substitutions.

 

We’ll get back to soccer.  But first let’s talk about apple pie.  Shall we?

 

And webs. I discovered Charlotte in her web one morning.  I had to stop the car and pull over and take pictures while the tractors drove around me.  Wow, huh? Actually, I couldn’t even find Charlotte, but didn’t she do good work?

 

Different editing for different looks.

 

Our spooky road in morning fog.  It brought the headless horseman to mind.

 

Back to the web.

 

Just one more. I was so impressed at such intricate detail.  Tell me, how does a spider do that? I’m fascinated.

 

More fog.

 

I love how the light hit the fog and this white birch tree.

 

And we interrupt spider webs and foggy Fall mornings for more soccer.  Here’s my girl playing high school soccer.  I might just weep after writing that.  Right away she pulled her hamstring (and mom said absolutely nothing about summer conditioning. ha.) and after two agonizing weeks of sitting the bench she was back in action.

 

Up for the ball and off it goes, four girls suspended in air…

 

See the goalie with the ball?  It’s best not to get in a goalie’s way. Run!

 

Then there was this girl.  My Braveheart. There were not enough girls to make a full team so it became co-ed.  In the end, I think it was very good for her.

 

I’m here! Pass!

 

Listen, Buster.  You’re not takin’ the ball from me!

 

Love this one.  Fly!

 

After an early Saturday morning run, before all the soccer began, I grabbed my camera, and went up the hill. I had to get these New England shots. The white houses and red barn doors.

 

The morning light was so gorgeous.

 

Country roads, take me home

 

To the place where I belong

 

Paige was the only one who would leave the warm house on an early Saturday morning and get in the cold car with her Mama. She said, “You love me most of all, don’t you, Mama?  Because I came with you.”

 

I follow Coach around like the paparazzi.  He sure does love it.  So does Jon.  Jon teaches Mandarin to my daughter.  Ni hao. 

 

Coach talks, boys flash thumbs-up sign. We got you, Coach!

 

This one played soccer, kind of.  But her favorite part was the water pump she could stick her tongue under during breaks.  And her socks.  She liked her stripes. She spent most of soccer being upset that people who were supposed to be her friend took the ball away or kicked the ball at her stomach.  How rude! Ah, it’s a hard way to live.

 

The last Fall harvest. I actually grew carrots and pumpkins!  And the chickens are laying eggs.  We have an overabundance of eggs.  Like, way too many.  I need recipes. Raise your hand if you want eggs.  I’m serious.

 

iphone pictures.  I love having a phone that captures the small and wonderful daily moments.  Instagram posting is just way too fun.

 

This is the only other picture I captured of my team.  We went on a lot of bus rides together.  Dare I say I miss it?  

 

My assistant and I talked strategy the whole way there and back.

 

Alas, soccer has ended except for the high school teams.  We are a bit sad. My afternoons are vastly different.

 

There she goes!  Into that pack of boys.  Girls, remember, we are all athletes.
 
Happy Fall!

 

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For the Love of Fall. And Soccer.

With all six family members involved in soccer this fall, it was a bit.insane.and wonderful.  There is nothing like being out on the soccer field late afternoon with the sun hitting your face, leaves falling, balls hitting your face…no really, it’s grand.
This year I coached my son’s co-ed 7th and 8th grade team of 30 kids: 6 girls, 24 boys.  We practiced everyday after school.  And did a lot of push-ups.  I feel very badly that this is the only picture I took.  Not one picture of my boy playing soccer. And this isn’t even his shoe. Oh dear.  I was so busy on the sideline that I never pulled out the camera.  Now the memory of boy on field is lost forever…except in my mind. Which is you know, iffy. 

Next year I shall be better. They can handle their own substitutions.

We’ll get back to soccer.  But first let’s talk about apple pie.  Shall we?

And webs. I discovered Charlotte in her web one morning.  I had to stop the car and pull over and take pictures while the tractors drove around me.  Wow, huh? Actually, I couldn’t even find Charlotte, but didn’t she do good work?

Different editing for different looks.

Our spooky road in morning fog.  It brought the headless horseman to mind.

Back to the web.

Just one more. I was so impressed at such intricate detail.  Tell me, how does a spider do that? I’m fascinated.

More fog.

I love how the light hit the fog and this white birch tree.

And we interrupt spider webs and foggy Fall mornings for more soccer.  Here’s my girl playing high school soccer.  I might just weep after writing that.  Right away she pulled her hamstring (and mom said absolutely nothing about summer conditioning. ha.) and after two agonizing weeks of sitting the bench she was back in action.

Up for the ball and off it goes, four girls suspended in air…

See the goalie with the ball?  It’s best not to get in a goalie’s way. Run!

Then there was this girl.  My Braveheart. There were not enough girls to make a full team so it became co-ed.  In the end, I think it was very good for her.

I’m here! Pass!

Listen, Buster.  You’re not takin’ the ball from me!

Love this one.  Fly!

After an early Saturday morning run, before all the soccer began, I grabbed my camera, and went up the hill. I had to get these New England shots. The white houses and red barn doors.

The morning light was so gorgeous.

Country roads, take me home

To the place where I belong

Paige was the only one who would leave the warm house on an early Saturday morning and get in the cold car with her Mama. She said, “You love me most of all, don’t you, Mama?  Because I came with you.”

I follow Coach around like the paparazzi.  He sure does love it.  So does Jon.  Jon teaches Mandarin to my daughter.  Ni hao. 

Coach talks, boys flash thumbs-up sign. We got you, Coach!

This one played soccer, kind of.  But her favorite part was the water pump she could stick her tongue under during breaks.  And her socks.  She liked her stripes. She spent most of soccer being upset that people who were supposed to be her friend took the ball away or kicked the ball at her stomach.  How rude! Ah, it’s a hard way to live.

The last Fall harvest. I actually grew carrots and pumpkins!  And the chickens are laying eggs.  We have an overabundance of eggs.  Like, way too many.  I need recipes. Raise your hand if you want eggs.  I’m serious.

iphone pictures.  I love having a phone that captures the small and wonderful daily moments.  Instagram posting is just way too fun.

This is the only other picture I captured of my team.  We went on a lot of bus rides together.  Dare I say I miss it?  

My assistant and I talked strategy the whole way there and back.

Alas, soccer has ended except for the high school teams.  We are a bit sad. My afternoons are vastly different.

There she goes!  Into that pack of boys.  Girls, remember, we are all athletes.

Happy Fall!

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A Soccer Season and Those Amazing Women

Miles run in fresh snow:  5.5

How you’ll feel running in fresh snow:  Like a freakin’ Amazon women 🙂  

Early in the morning, I texted…do you want to still go?  Buddy texts back…get your shoes on!  And this, dear friends, is why we absolutely need our women friends.  Need, not want.

I guess the snow marks the official end of the soccer season.  Green fields are covered this morning, leaves are wet with white, and my afternoons are spent editing instead of driving to practice everyday.  I must say, I don’t miss the rushing, but every few days I’ll feel a pang for the soccer field on a fall afternoon, a season that is always far too short.
I wonder if my kids think soccer is a choice?  We just play and we just love it!  Nelson is really getting the game, working on some fancy footwork with the occasional ninja move.

This was the first year Brynne was on a real team.  You know, where you’re supposed to actually pass the ball.  But they all want the ball so badly. The effect is a giant buzzing beehive that weaves all together around the field.  It cracks me up.  My feisty girl goes after it and my heart beats a little faster when I see that look on her face.  The best:  “Mom, oh my gosh, when’s my next game?  I LOVE soccer!!!”
This is my “get in the picture” moment with some of my soccer kids right before playing a tournament on a real turf field.  They were pretty psyched. That’s my Cope next to me on the right.  Good times with my 8th grader, friends, good times.  I have coached her since kindergarten.  It was a bittersweet ending.

One particular day, as we headed out to a field after a very long bus ride, I pulled out a piece of paper and started writing.  This works in my team’s favor as writing things down has a way of keeping me from going mad.  And I say that with the deepest affection for my soccer darlings.  

A typical five minutes:
Do you have an extra pair of socks?
Amy, your phone is ringing
Coach?  Um, I forgot what I was going to say
I lost my mouthguard
I feel so fat right now
My mouthguard was in my bra strap!
My knee brace is on the bus
This is the worst field ever
Do we seriously have to play on that?
This is the coolest water fountain ever
My knee hurts
Can I go in?
Can I go in?
Can I go in?
Me:  If you ask me that one more time…
Okay, okay!
Can I go in?
Can I take a nap?
Can we go play on the playground?
Can we go to McDonald’s after the game?
I love you, Amy!
Can I go in now?
You’re so mean, Coach!
I have to go to the bathroom
I forgot my cleats
My tooth hurts
Can we redo that one?
I left my jacket at school
Will you hold my rings?
Do you have scissors to cut my mouthguard?

This year Cope was asked to do some reffing for her little sister’s team.  Psyched.

And then.  There was the real highlight of my year:  The annual invite to play against the Proctor Academy varsity girl’s soccer team.

Us old girls get so ridiculously excited we start jumping up and down while clapping.  Or maybe that’s just me.  We rearrange schedules, grab that babysitter or drag the kids with us.  This is a game that must happen.

Yesterday I read that exercise is better than Prozac.  Endorphins cannot be imitated.  Just sayin’.
White vs. Green.  We had to take some Proctor players as there were only five of us old girls.  Here I am laughing at Mindy because she was stripping clothes off.  It was very, very cold.

Here’s the green team thinking they are going to kick our butts.  For the first time I can remember, they did.  boo hoo!  But just by 1 goal!

And now let me introduce you to some women you want to know:
This is Mindy.  That’s an athlete. Last year I went to her 50th birthday party.  I have a very clear memory of her taking me running right after I had Nelson.  As we ran up a hill in the woods, I was huffing and puffing behind her.  She yelled over her shoulder, are you walking????  No…no…no…just dying back here…not walking…We call Mindy the energizer bunny because she just. keeps. going.  A relentless soccer player, no one outworks her. Even when she’s having an asthema attack. We have played on many a soccer game together.

That’s Pinkie in white, about to take out Eva.  Look at that girl!  She’s such an athlete. Pinkie was one of my players when I coached at Proctor.  As an alum, she’s still a force and one formidable striker.  BOOM.

Here’s Lindsey, playing for two, while almost 5 months pregnant with her third child.  Don’t worry, she plays smart and doesn’t get hurt.  But she can’t not play!  As a Gordon College soccer star she was the leading scorer in the nation…is that right, Lindsey???  She even had a stint with the Boston Breakers women’s professional league.  You know what she does now?  She’s a mom.  Love.  But she’s still got moves and I watch her in awe.  She claps with me.

Mel, assistant coach of the girl’s team.  You don’t mess with Mel.  I don’t think you mess with any goalie, really. Nerves of steel.  She’ll kick your butt any day.  When she has the ball you start running far, far ahead ’cause she can get it to you!

#32 is Sarah, recruited to the field by her English students.  Sarah is in her late 50’s and here she is kicking, dribbling, and passing.  “You know,” she said after the game, “I guess it’s good we’re even out here.  We could be sitting.”

Not all my girls were there.  Some were missing.  Meredith, Lindsey B….we missed you…you’re my team too.  These women surrounding me don’t even know the power of their influence.  I’m sure I’ve never told them.  But I often thank God that I have them.  Just by watching them, they inspire, push, get me outside, get me moving when I don’t feel like it, when I don’t want to go, when I’m too tired, when my motivation is low.  

My mother didn’t have women around her like this and she often laments how she wishes more girls played sports when she was young.  

Yes, we are lucky to have each other.

And even as time passes and every year I feel my soccer game is getting less stellar with less practice, I reprimand myself.  Is it not a gift that one is even able to lace up shoes?  To run, to move, to jump and touch the sky…it’s all a gift. Today.  Maybe not tomorrow.
When my girls yell, “Go Mama!” as I run down the field, I smile the widest. I hope it’s a memory that stays sharp and focused, comes to mind when they think of their mother.  So that one day, when they’re mothers too, they’ll reach for their shoes and go outside, and play.

I used to get mad when I didn’t win, but even that competitive streak is waning. It is all coming full circle as I become more like a child who runs, simply because I love to play with you.

Thank you, freakin’ amazon warrior women.  All of ya!

Love, from me.
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Family Competition

In general, it’s probably not good to be too competitive with your family members.  Especially if it’s always one-sided, not fun, and the outcome is bawling and tattling.  On the other hand, many a great athlete credits an older or younger sibling for pushing them so hard.  Mia Hamm, women’s soccer great, comes to mind.
Sometimes, family competition is quite motivating.  For instance, when Cope’s 7th grade co-ed team played Nelson’s all-boy soccer team?
I’ve never seen Nelson bring his A-game like he did.

No way was his sister getting to the ball first.

“Hi Cope.  My ball!”  Cope was thoroughly put out.

That little boy in the goal.

I almost gave a half-time speech, “This team is NOT going to beat you…” but unfortunately, we were down 2 players, and missing key players to make anything happen.  Basically the 5th graders kicked our 7th grade booties.  I thought Cope might throw herself into the Blackwater she was so mad.

And then there was the other competition where my 8th graders played Gregor’s high school boys JV2 team.  “You’re going down,” I promised.
“Try to control yourself,” he said.  “No kicking the benches or throwing tantrums.”
We even had 2 hired refs!
It was so cold the kids could hardly feel their feet, hands, cheeks, or any other body part.
They felt awesome though, to play high schoolers.
Our winning streak ended right there and Gregor was quite gracious.  Unlike I would have been 🙂

My middle school players are in white.  Proctor in Green.  No way were they going to let us win this one.  I was so proud of my kids.  It capped off a great season.

Even though she was only a 7th grader, the other coach and I agreed – Cope had to get on the field to play her daddy’s team.  Intimidated and wide-eyed, she did awesome.

Other competition:  Pumpkin decorating.  Luckily, they all took home a prize at the church trunk or treat.  Everyone was happy.  Except Paige who forgot hers in the trunk.

Does this honestly work for any family?   It is such a cute dish that I inherited from my mother-in-law. Filled with Halloween treats.  
Sitting on the counter?  Yeah right.  There was grabbing, hiding, hoarding, and a scramble to get it first!  Before it’s gone and someone else gets more than you.  Piggies.   Talk about family competition.  It’s put away now, until G and I are on our own, fighting over the last Twix bar in our eighties.
We are covered in a foot of snow and it’s still coming.  It’s beautiful.  I texted my running buddy at 4:47 and went back to bed until 8:30.  Quite possibly a highlight of my life.  Tomorrow is Turkey Day, where we will show great gratitude for all the blessings we have been given.  We will be polite and gaze around the table, thankful we are all there, eating and laughing together.  I love it.  
There will be no family competition.  
Unless it involves that last piece of turkey sitting in the fridge for a late-night turkey/cranberry sandwich. 
Game on.
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Soccer Jamboree

Last Saturday was a great day on the soccer field, especially when I looked across the field and saw a rainbow from one side of the field to the other.
The weather was perfect, a little cool, but not too cold.  It was a long day: 11-4:30 with thirty minute games.  The only thing that could have made it better was if I was on the field too instead of the sideline coaching!  But that was fun too.

A beautiful fall day

These two were wonderful.  They played for hours and hours on the sideline, occasionally asking for m&m money, and then would be off again.
Gotta love the mouth guards.
The jamboree was for Cope’s 7th/8th grade soccer team.  Nelson had a tournament in another town so I didn’t get to see him play 🙁 
The other coach and I split up Cope’s team so everyone could play more.  I’ve been coaching Cope’s team since she was six years old.  They used to play in a big beehive, hide behind my legs, and sometimes cry.  Now, they get the game of soccer.  They’ve learned to use space, to dribble without falling over, and to pass before running into someone.  They’re getting so strong, so skilled. What a great reward for any coach.

Cope played well as center mid – thanks Becky for the awesome pictures!

Love it
My sweet girls on a sweet day…
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about the boy

It’s a Saturday morning.  That means we are gearing up to watch this boy play the great game.
Soccer, of course!  

He’s getting more and more confident and as those muscles get bigger, I hope he finds joy on the field the way I have.  He loves to head the ball and doesn’t flinch when it comes flying at him (there are some big differences between coaching a girl’s team and boy’s at this level!).  This morning he made a shot and almost got it in.  If he could get one goal in this season he would be so happy.

“Mom, watch!”  He YouTubed front and back flips and can’t stop himself.  Never mind that he’s got some neck issues!  Thanks YouTube.

There was a giant rainbow around the sun.  What does that mean?  Hot, muggy, and buggy weather?  That’s what we’ve got.

Half-time entertainment

Fall is just beginning…soccer, soccer, and more soccer.  Add some flips, apples, car pools, and that thing called school.  The leaves are just starting to pop.  It’s a great time of year to live in New England. Let the fun begin…
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The Month of November

It’s the end of the month as I write this, sitting on a bedroom floor of my parent’s home for the last time.  I am the last one to leave today so I have a few minutes to write.  
It was a great month; full of wonderful times.
1.  Soccer of course.  Played with these stellar athletes and great friends.  We beat the Proctor girl’s varsity team and won bragging rights 🙂  Sorry Simone, it’s true!
A little after-soccer craziness.  Paige is doing this thing where she just plunges backwards and hopes for the best.
2.  Took Cope to see Carrie Underwood.  WOW.  What a voice!  Cope loved it too and I had to make a CD when I got home.  I didn’t know a lot of her songs before as I live in the world of musicals and kid CDs now.  Now I can say I’m a big fan.  When Carrie sang, “Jesus Take the Wheel,” and then went right into “How Great Thou Art,” she about brought the whole house down.  So good!  Late night.  So fun.
3.  Thanksgiving, of course.  I have so many pictures to post.  We had a blast, ate way too many cheeseballs and pieces of pie, played games (pounce!), and laughed over everything.  I’m so blessed to have such great family on both sides.
4.  Health.  No one is sick.  Everyone is feeling pretty good.  Health is such a blessing.  We can run!
  Five us woke up early to go run in the freezing cold 5k Turkey Trot.  It has grown to be the BIGGEST 5k in the state, boasting over 800 runners this year!  Another good time.
5.  Going home.  Allison, Andrea, and Eric were able to fly in for one last Thanksgiving in Omaha.
My parents are moving to Arizona after 33 years in Nebraska.  I have many pictures to upload.  I love being from corn country.  Their home has a for sale sign in front of it.  The house next door has a for sale sign too.  My neighbors, The Huqs, have already moved out and their home sits empty. 
6.  Newborns.  Love them.
7.  National Novel Writing Month!  It was fun.  It was work.  It was an overwhelming, unrealistic goal.  My wrist hurts.  I made myself do it.  And 50,000 words later I have a new story I’m excited about.  It was exactly when I needed.  I think “We Do Hard Things” is going to be a new motto in our home.
8.  Xanadu!  This CD was resurrected this month.  Fabulous!  Roller skates, Olivia Newton John, feathered hair – oh yea!
9.  Coming Home.  
I am back and everyone was happy to see me…so nice!  I missed my little buddies and they have not stopped hugging me and giving me kisses.
The house is clean, Gregor didn’t go insane trying to balance kids, work, and all the activities.  He does say his office is turned upside down, but I am grateful he was supportive.
After a flight cancellation, I made it, a day late, but I’m back.  5 days away!  It felt like a long time and I am not very good at flying. Thankfully I did not have to use that little baggie in front of me…Thank you Dramamine.
Good-bye November, Hello December…wow!
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Fall Soccer

So now it’s my kid’s turn to have some soccer fun.
This weekend marked the end of fall soccer for my kids.  It’s been so much fun but I’m exhausted and ready for a break.  I was Cope’s coach again this year for the 5/6th grade girls.
What was so great about doing it for two years is you see the great growth the girls make in just one year.  We moved these two girls up last year when they were only in 4th grade – they’re that good.  Danika on the left is going to be a varsity goalie someday, and Katie B. on the right is going to dominate the field on the varsity level.  Not only, that, but their attitudes were something I wish everyone brought. We had quite a bit of drama this year….GIRLS!
We had practice every Tuesday after school.  I would leave the house at 2:30 with Paige and her lunch box full of snacks.  I’d pick the kids up from school, drop Nelson off at daddy’s football field to play, and bring Brynne and Paige down to the Blackwater Field from 3-5.  Cope liked to walk with her friends.  Luckily, there is a playground and the girls were really good about playing.  Sometimes Paige would wander over, without her shoes, and want me to hold her.  Overall though, they were so good.
Then, games were every Thursday night and every Saturday afternoon.  There was a lot of travel this year.
Cope of course was on my team.  What a great year she had!  She loved it so much she’s begging me to play year-round – indoor this winter.  (This makes me so happy 🙂 She liked playing center defense and was good at it.  That position requires settling the ball in a stressful situation and then distributing it well.  Her dad saw her play and suggested we try her at center half.  I think that’s the hardest position on the field because you control the middle.  You again have to settle the ball quickly and find an open player to pass to. 
But as a midfielder you also have to run, run, and run some more.
She was nervous when I put her there.
She even cried and yelled for a sub more than once.  “I can’t do this,” she cried.
But after a pep talk and some perseverance, the magic happened.
She was awesome.
And she found her position.  Good girl.
This is one of the reasons I love sports.  It can be scary and it can be hard. But when you find that it, you feel it, you know it, and you own it.
She came away with a lot of confidence.
And here’s my Nellie-Bell.  He had a great year on the 3rd/4th grade team!  It was fun to see his skills improve.  He had quite a few goals and is already signed up to play with some buddies on an indoor team (in addition to basketball!)  He had practice every Wed. night and a game every Saturday afternoon.  Can you say logistics?
The team bench.  In between kung-fu moves and wrestling. Hilarious.
A future Gatorade ad.
Off he goes.
His coach was so great.  Boy am I glad for good coaches.  Jeff taught the boys to play, have sportsmanship, and gave everyone equal playing time.
After a game, there is always time for leaf-jumping

The team after a good win.  Aren’t they cute?
This is the Andover Beacon photo.
Our tournament this weekend.  Thanks goodness I didn’t have to drag the other kids.  Daddy had them during parent’s weekend.  What a trooper.  The tournament was a blast despite 40mph winds in 40 degree temperatures.  It was a round robin and we played 5 games, 25 minutes each.
My girl
And here’s the latest soccer player in the family!  Brynne thought it was ok and only had to go every Saturday morning.  She missed half the practices we were so busy.
Brynne liked this part of practice the best!
So, there it is.  Another year of fall soccer come and gone.  Boy oh boy do I love it – cold, wind, drama, fatigue, wins, losses…bring it on.  We’ll be back for more.
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