Like most of Addy’s outdoor soccer seasons at Legacy Park, this one featured all the seasons in eight weeks.
While bone-chilling winds are the norm at this park, we also had our fair share of high-noon sweating, drizzle and rain-outs and one — one — beautifully autumn-like day.
Still, soccer forges on in the Sporting Lee’s Summit league as Addy and her band of 7-8-year-olds try to incrementally graduate from whatever soccer looked like a few years ago to a more cohesive and focused group of players.
Passing the ball actually becomes a thing. Scoring is kind of important. Knowing where your goal is (the one you want to score in as it were) — most of the time — becomes paramount to anything else.
It’s the smaller, more meaningful lessons, though, that I am hoping Addy picks up on as well.
As the kids get older, they get stronger and the kicks elevate off the ground and into the faces of unsuspecting rivals (or teammates) from time to time. Kids get tangled up, blindsided or just flat take a spill while running downfield.
We all want our kids to have that innate sense of good and humanity that they will check on the injured player and, as parents, we will clap for that player as they are walked off the field. These are lessons that will be more and more important as Addy gets older, games get more physical and the girls become more competitive.
Addy constantly keeps track of the score — even if it isn’t publicly discussed on the field much. She wants to win as badly as any of them. But like the parent of any 8-year-old soccer player, I catch myself questioning why she isn’t closer to the ball or why she kicked it where she did.
Post-game snacks are essential in youth soccer.
Then, my internal dialogue kicks in: “John, she’s 8. She’s learning the game and all its intricacies.”
I honestly struggle with the balance of “fun vs. winning.” I have always said it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Addy and I have talked many times about the notion that you can have fun and win. And you can have fun and tie or lose a game. It’s all in how the game unfolds.
A 5-0 loss, honestly, isn’t much fun for the kiddos during youth soccer. A 1-1 tie can be exhilarating. Or frustrating. I wish we had some sort of tiebreaker in place at this level of soccer, but I understand why perhaps on the other end that may not be good for kids this age yet. Addy’s figuring out already that tying isn’t a great resolution to the game.
Of course, no matter the weather or the outcome, the youth coaches in our community are truly the good guys (and gals). Addy knows exponentially more about the game this season than she did last. And watching the patience and guidance from our individual coaches makes me smile week in and week out.
This offseason may find us back indoors playing at Z Sports in Greenwood. Maybe not. Either way, I will try and always take Addy up on it when she asks, “dad, can we go outside and kick the soccer ball around?”
Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.