To travel or not to travel, that is the question!

I am not typically one to read magazine articles but I just found myself chuckling at an article in the “Philadelphia” magazine.  The article is about a parent struggling with the decision to sign up a child for travel soccer or not.  Oh how I can relate to this parent!

When I was a child my parents were divorced.  I was raised by a single working mother who made it clear that after a hard week at work she would not spend her free time carting us around to sporting events.  If we wanted to participate in anything outside of school it would need to be with a friend whose parent was willing to take us also.  This may sound rough but now as a parent I understand (most of the time).

Many would say that my husband and I over compensate at times.  On top of school, my children both take music lessons, karate and play sports.   I remember a few years ago attempting to arrange for parties on the weekend and having many friends reply with “I am sorry but we have (fill in sport)”.  I would be left feeling a bit annoyed and would swear that our life would not be like that.  I was dead set that we would not have our lives controlled by any sport.

That all changed one night last summer when we received a phone call from Megan’s parks and rec soccer coach explaining that he had made the decision to coach at the travel level and that he was hoping to see Megan try out. I was not thrilled with the idea but she really wanted to do it. Of course we allowed it and the rest is history.  I am now the parent of the starting, (and only) goalkeeper on the team.  The girls practice twice a week and our Saturdays are spent on the fields.  Holiday weekends mean tournament play and for our child extra camps which cost extra money to improve her skills in-goal.

Image 1For some it sounds just awful and I will admit it is not for everyone.  For our family, it seems right.  We enjoy watching our girls play and improve.  We have bonded with many “team” families.  I also believe that the competition that comes with the travels program is very important. We live in a world of trophies for all, everybody plays and no winners or losers.  For the young ones that is fine but there comes a time in life when it is time to learn reality.  Life is filled with ups and downs, wins and losses.  It is up to parents and coaches to teach that winning is not everything but showing up prepared to “play” is a must be it sport, school, work or life in general .  Healthy competition as a child helps to prepare for the push and pull that they will experience through life.

I guess as time has passed I have become a “soccer mom”.  I do refuse to put one of those soccer ball magnets on my car.  We all have to draw the line somewhere :-).

A busy week and medical advances

First day for all of us
First day for all of us

The summer has officially ended in our house with the yearly closing of the pool.  There are still some very warm days in the forecast like today’s heat in excess of 90 degrees, but once school starts there is just not enough time in the day. Speaking of school, the fist day was a success for all!  Both girls had great days especially our new first grader.

Ready to take the field
Ready to take the field

The first day seems like a life time ago already.  Saturday morning was picture perfect.  Although there was a slight chill in the air, the sun, high in a bright blue sky was warm and comfortable.  Our day started with a season opening soccer game with the youngest at 9am.  At her age they play 2 fields of 4 on 4, open goal.  This is my husbands first year coaching soccer and the first time most of the girls have played together.  There were many bright spots.  A little girl who just could not keep herself from picking up the ball mid play was not necessarily one of the brightest but the season looks to be fun none the less.

The look of a 3-0 shut-out to start the season!
The look of a 3-0 shut-out to start the season!

The travel game with the older child was much better.  I think what made this game so much fun was the fact that over the last year we sat through many (emphasis many) bad, down right ugly soccer games.  With Megan as the full-time goal keeper this year we feel extra pressure to ensure she plays her best.  Saturday the entire team stepped up and played the best game we have seen them play as a team.  The final score was 3-0..first game of the year and first shut out of what we hope will be a wonderful soccer year for Megan and team.

The week is flying by with time split between my few hours at the school doing cafeteria and playground duty, soccer practice, karate and everything in between.  How quickly our lazy days of summer have been filled with days that just do not have enough hours.

On a totally different note, I caught a few minutes of the news last night  as I was getting dinner ready for the girls.  The story was about a new pump to help to identify breast cancer up to 10 years sooner than with current methods.  I do not know how much data they have collected on it or how accurate it is but I would like to believe that such advances are true and reliable.  I think about my young daughters and the very real high risk possibility that they face of breast cancer.  I can only hope and pray that the advances continue so by the time my babies have to face tough decisions,  like me they will be lucky enough to be able to act proactively.

Are you ready for some soccer?

I just got Megan and Frank packed up and off to the first of three soccer games this extremely hot weekend.  Madi and I will miss the first game in order to make it to her guitar lesson.  We will join the other two for game two.  If you were to look at the weather you would think we were in mid-August instead of late spring.  We are in the middle of the first heat wave of the year with today being the fourth day over 90 degrees.  Thankfully Meg has a few hours in between games and will be able to come home and relax in the cool air-conditioned house for a little bit.  I think I definitely see pool time later today!Image

Megan’s soccer season was actually over.  The township has two teams for her age group.  We received an e-mail asking if she would jump to the other team for the weekend to help out.  That request came before I realized it was going to be so hot this weekend :-).  The experience will be good for her to play with different girls.  She and one other girls from her team will both be playing.  They had one practice together the other night.  Fingers are crossed for a fun tournament!