In reverse order of age this time, your periodic Kid Sports Update.
L., and her whole soccer team, rebounded nicely from their rough first week. Playing against teams that have not been full of second graders like their first opponent, they’ve won two-straight games in shutouts. She scored three goals last week and two yesterday.
Most impressively, her team is playing pretty, team soccer. Most of the kids are learning how to pass out of traffic and then run to space. Last week she was bringing the ball up the middle. When two defenders cut her off, she made a nice pass out to the left, where a teammate ran onto the ball. She immediately cut away and towards the goal. Her teammate took a couple dribbles and then fired a pass to the middle. She collected it, danced around a couple defenders, and scored. I couldn’t get my U–10 team to do that last year!
She also made a perfect pass from the goal line back across the penalty box that a teammate ran onto and blasted. He was unlucky, hitting the goalie square in the chest, but it was a gorgeous play.
L’s team has eight kids, there are eight periods, and four positions on the field. With every kid playing half the game that means they rotate through all four positions. Last week she had played sweeper and both forward spots. When her final period began, the coach asked, “OK, who hasn’t played goalie yet?” She turned, looked at the ground, and took a few steps behind another teammate. She clearly was not interested in playing goal. We laughed out loud at her attempt to hide. The coach found her, though, and put her in goal. We think she just much prefers offense. But she also got to play goalie one quarter last spring when she played up for a game. And she let in two goals when kids three years older than her blasted it by her because she was out of position. I think she has some nervousness about what to do. She shouldn’t have been nervous. She picked up the ball both times it was close to her and made great passes out to teammates.
C. has had a great couple weeks of cross country. Two weeks ago, at a big invitational meet that featured about 700 total kids, she finished 35th of 120 in her gender/age group. The top 30 got ribbons so she just missed on that. And she cut over 30 seconds off her previous best time.
This weekend she ran in a much smaller meet. We don’t have official times yet, but she was right around the 15:30 she ran the previous week. This time that was good for 13th place. When she finished I told her she was around 15th or 16th. As they were bringing the award winners up to the stage, and went past those two places without calling her name, I watched her look around to her friends with a look of surprise and amazement. I was glad I miscounted the girls in front of her, because it made her even more proud of her result.
Her team takes this weekend off then she runs in the city championships next Wednesday.
And then kickball. M’s team played in the city semifinals last week. We knew it was going to be a tougher game than any of their regular season contests. As the first semifinal was wrapping up, we watched St. P’s opponent, St. M, warm up on a side field. Their first baseman couldn’t catch anything. Their other infielders were having trouble fielding it. “Man,” I thought, “they’re going to cream these kids.”
St. P’s scored three in the top of the first, but that was a struggle because St. M’s was making every defensive play. Then, in the bottom of the inning, the first seven St. M’s players got on base and scored. One girl, who was about the size of the smallest St. P’s girls, cranked the ball over the head of our left fielder.
We held them scoreless for the next three innings, but could only add two runs of our own, making it 7–5. St. M’s scored two more in the fifth, and then two, two-out runs in the 6th. Our girls could only score three over the last three innings and lost 13–8. That one, poor inning was the difference.
St. M’s had some sixth graders, so our coaches told the girls there was nothing to be ashamed of. Besides, they got a trophy for winning their division and were super excited about getting that to put in the school lobby.
It may have been a good thing they lost, too. The team they would have played in the final, St. S, was very, very good. They beat the St. P’s team that had a mix of 5th and 6th graders twice in the regular season. Not saying we couldn’t have beaten them, but it was going to be a struggle.
The bigger thing, though, is we avoided St. S’s coach. Or rather I avoided him. We’ve heard stories about him all year. Apparently he is rather annoying if your kid is not on his team. He likes to yell out the calls on the bases, or at least his view of them, louder than the umpire. And then argues any call he disagrees with. We also heard, from the other St. P’s team, that he’ll yell at players on the other team, “Two outs, run on anything,” even when there aren’t two outs. The coach of the other St. P’s team, who we know pretty well and is about as laid-back and pleasant as you can be, had to tell him to knock it off the two times their teams played. Since I keep score, there’s a good chance I could have been standing near him for seven innings. Which meant A) my blood pressure would likely be sky-high if he really behaves as we’ve heard, B) my mouth would likely be bleeding from biting my lips, tongue, and cheeks to keep from saying anything and C) there’s about an even-money chance I would have said something to him at some point.
One thing I’ve learned in our girls’ years of sports is that games are much more pleasant and relaxed when moms are coaching. Not that there aren’t still disagreements and discussions, and our coaches were all super competitive and wanted to win every game. But it seems like if there are two moms coaching, they find a way to work it out and end the game smiling and wishing each other luck. Men, and I include myself here, are generally overly competitive idiots who let the testosterone get in the way of letting our kids have fun.
That nonsense aside, M. really enjoyed this year. She got better and was on a really good team. On our way home after the loss, she said she was sad, not because the team lost, but because she wouldn’t be able to go to practice and games with that group of girls until volleyball begins in December. More than the wins or her personal improvement, that was my favorite moment of the season.
- Or aunts, etc. ↩