Wow, what is it like to be the mother of twin soccer players? Well, it is bittersweet now, as their soccer career is coming to a close and we prepare for prom, graduation, and college in the fall.
As any mom knows, your children are your life. I am no different. In high school, if you asked me what I wanted to be, the answer never changed…a mom. So at the age of 30 my husband and I were blessed with twin boys Andrew and Brett.
Now, I was raised in a baseball family. My father coached the University of Miami, and I was the ‘son’ he never had. I loved and still love college baseball. I was raised knowing how to handle a loss or a win…with class. I never experienced crazy parents and adults living out their athletic dreams through their children. Until our boys started organized sports.
My husband Peter was a soccer player, league ball, high school ball, college national champions. His father was a soccer coach. This was a foreign sport to me but when I met all the wonderful friends he had and shared in his love for soccer it was only fitting that at age 3 the boys started soccer. It was all about having fun, who was bringing the snacks and basically wearing them out so they would take LONG naps. Peter always said, as long as they learn something, get better, and make lifelong friends and memories, then it is a success. I truly believe this and it is something that we have instilled in our boys.
If I were to give any advice to parents wanting to get their children involved in organized sports, it would be to watch out for the other parents and the coaches. The kids will take the lead from them. There are wonderful coaches out there, and not so wonderful. There are great supportive parents and some crazed out parents.
Our boys played, soccer, baseball, hockey, and basketball. In middle school they narrowed their play to soccer. Soccer is a year round sport here in Florida. For Travel Ball you will try out the week after Memorial Day, teams will be chosen a week later, and you will probably play your first tournament Labor Day weekend. On that note, you will also relinquish all holiday weekends to soccer. This is when all the tournaments are, and they are usually out of town.
Peter coached the kids in Optimist from 3-8 years and then we entered the Travel Ball Division. He continued to coach their travel team until they were about 14; when he felt it was time for them to have a coach that could take them to the next level.
The boys had to learn to juggle school, a social life and soccer. School is number one. We did come across some clubs who were emphasizing the soccer more than the academics. One of our parents put it accurately by saying, ‘These kids are going to college, period. If they play soccer in addition, that is great, but academics are why they are there.’
- Be wary of the poachers. It sounds crazy, but there are people out there who will promise you and your child the moon and the stars if they switch clubs. The grass is NOT always greener.
- Speak to others about the different clubs and what they require of you and your children, their policy on grades (do they require you to hand in your report card), and of course the important financial commitment. Are there monthly fees in addition to registration? Plans for out of town travel?
- Be prepared to make a commitment. Usually 3-4 practices a week and a game on the weekend. Travel to tournaments, hotel stay, food and at times; a day off of work or school.
- “Don’t Feed the Bears”..this is what I refer to when speaking of the opposing harassing parents. They will scream and yell at the referees, they will scream and yell at your child, and in some cases they will yell for their child to hurt yours. Yes, been there. I try never to engage in conversation with these parents. They are silly and there is usually a field marshal on site that can be contacted to restrain such a parent. I have no problem with yelling positive things to YOUR child and their teammates, but there is no place for negativity, criticism or violence. Remember it is a game, and they are kids.
For all of those unfortunate occasions, there are 50 more that are wonderful proud moments. Like seeing your 18 year old boys, sharing snacks and drinks with their opponent in a rain delay before their game starts. Seeing them help an opposing player up after a collision, helping an opponent stretch on the field who is experiencing painful leg cramps.
We have created wonderful memories with our children, their friends and fellow soccer parents; and it is not over yet!