Tomorrow Megan’s soccer team is playing in a soccer tournament. Our township is hosting this one which is nice, short ride to the field and the ability to stop home between games if we want. The tournament itself started tonight but her team has all 3 games tomorrow.
After an awful fall with no wins a tie and the rest losses, the coach made some changes. First he brought on an assistant to help him to work more closely with the girls in practice. The practices are definitely more high impact and the girls are more focused. He also pointed out something that we all saw very clearly, our little girls were in terrible shape. They would come onto the field full of steam to play but within a few minutes were out of gas. By the second half our girls were flat-footed to put it nicely.
Do not misunderstand me, none of us parents cared about the losses but seeing 7-8 year olds unable to play for the full-time was concerning. Twice a week in practice they now start and finish with a half mile run for a total of 1 mile. The first time Megan had to complete the run we had tears, lots of them! Before she even started she told me she would never be able to finish. It was tough for me to watch, I even went out and jogged part of the last lap with her to try to get her through.
It has been 4 weeks now and the results are showing. The team’s record is 2-1-1 and they play much stronger. With the tournament this weekend all of the fields have been closed in preparation. Coach wanted to make sure the girls were focused so he had them show up at the park Thursday night for a run. When we arrived we were informed that the distance would be 2 miles. No timers, no winners just finish and NO walking. Wow…I will admit I was worried. I whispered in Megan’s ear a reminder, breath, pace yourself and do not worry about what anyone else is doing or where you are in the group just stay focused and finish.
I stood with the father of another girl from the team and we watched the girls pass us, (each lap is a half mile). After the first mile I gave her a small drink and told her how great she was doing. After the next lap she was struggling but on ward she went. At the end of the fourth lap the coach patted each girl on the back as they came across told them to grab a water and walk one more for cool down. I walked with her with pride. My baby who literally almost collapsed the first run had just completed twice the distance with no tear and told me that although her legs felt like jelly she felt great!
I will admit that at first I thought the coach was a bit rough. He was asking too much from little kids. Sometimes it takes events like this to remind me, although I want to protect them from every ouch, every pain, I can not wrap them in bubble wrap. The best way to protect them is to ensure that they are strong, healthy and confident. I don’t know what the results of the games will be but I am sure that the girls will play hard and with confidence, and in the end that is all we could ever hope.