Life Lessons Learned On The Soccer Field

מגשימים מגרש כדורגל- The Soccer Field

Life lessons learned on the soccer field is the sort of sterile headline that I tend to hate but I can’t think of anything better to describe this past weekend. Let me set the scene for you.

My son’s team was scheduled to hit the field at 7:30 am on Saturday. Due to several games having been rained out this season the playoffs and championships were set up to be played on one day. Normally they might do the playoffs one week and then follow up with the championships the next but that couldn’t be arranged this time around.

Instead they were told that they might play a total of three games. Win the first game and advance to the second game. If they won the second game they would advance to the championship game.

Saturday morning I walked him to the field and we talked about what to expect. He told me that he was nervous and that the boys thought that they would win the first but that the second didn’t seem likely. I told him to take it one game at a time and remember that anything can happen. My answer wasn’t complete bullshit. I believe what I said. I have experienced it personally and seen it happen at multiple levels but I can’t say that I really expected to see what I saw.

The boys came out flat during their first game and didn’t play well at all. With two minutes left in the fourth quarter they were down 3-1 and it looked like the season was about to end. Anxious parents on the sideline shouted encouraging words and pushed them to keep fighting. They didn’t have to win to make us proud but if they were going to lose we wanted them to go out on a high note.

But sports are filled with moments and this was when lady luck waved her wand. We scored…twice.  With the season on the line we somehow tied it up and forced overtime. Apparently our boys like drama because at the end of the first overtime the score remained tied and we went into the second overtime and came out the other side still tied.

The rules dictate that you can’t go into a third overtime so they moved into Penalty kicks and both sides went through the lineups and then we managed to pull it out.

I can’t describe how much pleasure I got out of watching the look on their faces when we tied it up and then again when we won. My son’s eyes sparkled and his face was glowing. I told him how proud I was and then we walked home to rest for 40 minutes because we had another game. Resting time came and went and then boys played another team right into two overtimes but this time managed to pull out a victory without resorting to penalty kicks.

That gave us another hour of rest and then we ran back for the championship game but that fickle bitch named  Lady Luck decided to bestow her charms upon another. The boys were gassed and they just didn’t have it. But there is no shame in second place and the smiles upon their faces when they received their medals was like an early Chanukah gift.

What Did They Learn

One of the things that I love best about blogging is that it provides a chronicle of the lives of my children. That is really why I provided that recap of the games. It is for me so that I remember the day.

But for you who want to know what they learned I share the following. I say that they learned that sometimes being part of a team demonstrates that you can be part of something bigger and greater than you as an individual. They learned that there is truth and meaning in saying “don’t give up” and that adversity doesn’t mean failure.

They learned that we have more control over our own destinies than some people give credit for. History can be changed. A team that you beat you once isn’t given an automatic win the next time you see them.

And for one moment in time these 11 and 12 year-old boys tasted something rare and sweet. It really was a beautiful thing to watch.

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  1. Frume Sarah December 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Just reading this made me anxious…as though I was there, watching this nail-biter with you. It must have been so exciting.

    I am in awe of these kids who are able to put in so much physical and mental effort. Three games in one day is a lot. And these were serious games. I hope that your son feels proud of having devoted himself to bringing his best to his team on Saturday.

    • Jack December 12, 2011 at 11:31 pm

      He really does feel good and he learned a lot. Funny thing, about half time he took my hand, put it on his head and looked up at me because he wanted his blessing.

      I hope that I get that from him for the rest of his life.

  2. Jason December 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Great post Jack! Congrats on 2nd place! My sons also play soccer and I think its the best learning experience for them with they lose and most important the confidence booster they get when they win. Good luck!

  3. Mimi Meredith December 12, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Isn’t it amazing how much more profound our sense of joy is when it is on behalf of our children. Nothing else ever lifts my heart the way my children’s true happiness does.

    Tell your son congratulations! Way to end the season!

    • Jack December 12, 2011 at 8:12 am

      Hi Mimi,

      That is so very true. I am very competitive but that is always tempered with my kids. I just want them to enjoy it.

      And boy did they ever get something out of this. Thanks for the good wishes. Hope you are enjoying Monday.

  4. Stats Dad December 12, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Nice post. There is nothing more exciting than a PK win and nothing more disappointing than a PK loss. Kids need to experience both winning and losing in sports to prepare them for life.

    The mamby-pamby lets not keep score to keep little Johnny from getting his feelings hurt BS drives me nuts.

    Congrats to your son and his team on a well deserved 2nd place finish.

    • Jack December 12, 2011 at 8:11 am

      It really was an exciting game. Part of me felt badly about it going to PKs as it seemed like a bit of a let down to both teams.

      But the keepers stayed calm and they all played hard so I think that they all gained from it.

  5. Bill Dorman December 12, 2011 at 4:58 am

    What I learned is there actually is rain in SoCal; I thought soccer was two halves not quarters; and it’s cool you live close enough to walk to the games.

    Both of my sons played soccer and certainly had their share of moments.

    My best memory was in the playoffs, my oldest son’s team also had an early morning game out of town. It was unusually cold and his team was not very good so my wife decided to stay home. My son scored 6 goals and 3 of them were breakaways; needless to say that was a big day and we certainly let his mother know what she missed.

    Treasure those moments, they are priceless indeed.

    • Jack December 12, 2011 at 8:04 am

      Hi Bill,

      Yes, it does rain here, not all that often but we get it. Usually when it rains it pours so it can get kind of nasty.

      That story about your son sounds great. Those really are priceless moments, it is why I sometimes am the guy holding the camera on the sidelines.

      Never know when a good shot will come along.

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