The last big, kid sports weekend of the fall is in our rearview mirror.

C ran at the City championships on Saturday. That’s where she ran the best race of her life a year ago to finish 6th in the 3rd/4th grade race. This year it was much warmer and very windy, so not ideal running conditions. But coming off the 5th/6th grade girls winning the biggest meet of the regular season three weeks ago, we were hoping they could add a City title.

The course is great for runners in that it’s very flat. It’s great for spectators because you can see the runners several times as they wind back-and-forth if you’re willing to move around. We caught them near the 1K mark and our girls were doing great. The sixth grader who has won every race this year was well out in front. Our two other fast sixth graders were together in the low teens. And C and her fifth grade buddy were in the high teens. We yelled at C that she was doing great then cut back across the field to catch her again.

When they came through this time, our leader was still way out in front, but one of her classmates had fallen back. And C and moved up. She was 11th with just under half the race to go. More yelling of encouragement then over to the finishing stretch.

Our sixth grader cruised to another win, finishing her perfect season. A reminder that she never ran competitively before this year. She’s incredible. Our next sixth grader came over the rise at #9. Then the waiting and counting. C appeared in the 14th spot, but she looked like she was struggling. We yelled and then I ran with her, yelling from the side, for the last 200 yards. “COME ON, C! KEEP GOING, C! YOU’VE GOT IT, C! STRIDE OUT, BABE!” A girl passed her with about 100 yards left and another was closing. I ran faster and yelled louder, but she was clearly on fumes. That girl caught her right at the line, putting her in 16th place.

She didn’t set a PR – she was 11 seconds slower than her City time from a year ago – but it was still her fastest race of the year by nearly 30 seconds.

She was the third St. P’s finisher.

She was the fifth fifth grader to finish.

She beat 112 other girls.

A pretty good day for her!

We had three more races to wait through before we got official results. During that 90-minute stretch all the St. P’s parents were walking around asking where everyone finished, and seeing if anyone was counting for other schools. Our top four, who score for the team competition, were all in the top 19. We just weren’t sure if anyone else squeezed in four runners in front of them.

Turns out a school we hadn’t run against all year had four in the top 15, which was good enough to edge our girls by five points for the team title. That girl that nosed out C? Yep, she was on the winning team. Fortunately those points were not the difference, as that would have only cut it to a three point difference.

Still a great day for our girls. They got another trophy and got recognized at school this morning. Football has another month left, but so far that group of girls are the only St. P’s athletes to add any trophies to the school lobby. And each time C has been one of the girls earning points for her team.

For the year C placed in every race she ran, had one top–10 finish, and twice was the #3 finisher from St. P’s. Not bad for being in the younger half of the age group.

L had two soccer games this weekend. We missed Saturday’s game while we were at the XC meet. She scored three goals in a 12–0 win. Sunday she scored three more in a 13–1 win. She’s so humble. When she scored her third goal yesterday, she turned and looked at me and said, “That’s a hat trick!” She has 13 goals on the year with one game to play. As good of a weekend as that was for L, our best player scored nine on Saturday and six on Sunday.

Since I was at Sunday’s game I can claim a very proud coaching moment. We have a kid that is huge; he looks more like a sixth or seventh grader. He’s both tall and wide, so he’s not the most mobile or graceful kid in the world. He really struggles to control the ball. We’ve been working with him all year to not worry about taking the perfect shot. If the ball’s on your foot, hit it. What we don’t tell him is that everyone is afraid of him and they’re going to get out of the way when he winds up. He scored a goal a couple weeks back, but remained reluctant to shoot. Partially because he hits the ball so hard that it often sails well over the crossbar.

This week we put him up front and told him to stay there. Don’t chase on defense and waste your energy. Sit up front and when the ball goes forward, get into the box. He scored our first goal on an absolutely beautiful kick. He took his time, got the ball lined up, and ripped it past the goalie from outside the box. It was 1–0 for a long time before L put us up 2–0. Then the big kid scored two quick goals to break the game open. When we subbed him out we were high fiving him and telling him how awesome he was playing. I high fived our head coach and jokingly told him he had tapped into the potential coaches had been trying to get out that kid for the past two years.

On the other hand, we have a couple kids who have no idea what’s going on. Worse, one of them whines all the time, tries to score on our goalie, or gets stuck way out of position. Yesterday we had him playing defense. At first he was drifting forward and we told him to get back in his position. He gave us his usual response, a whiny “WHY?” She he shuffles his feet back to position, head down, pouting. We yell at him to watch the game and he finally picks his head up to see the ball slowly rolling toward him.

Does he run up and kick it forward, like he’s supposed to? No.

Does he trip and fall and let the other team get a clean shot on goal? No.

Does he settle the ball then turn and shoot it on his own goal, as he’s done multiple times this year? No.

Nope, instead he kneels down, puts his hands out, and waits to pick the ball up as if he’s the goalie.

The best thing about this play was the the ball was rolling very slowly, no one from the other team was chasing it, and he was on the opposite end of the field of us. It was like it was all happening in slow motion. The head coach and I were screaming at him not to touch the ball. But, sure enough, he picks the ball up and hugs it close. Free kick for the other team.

The referee told him what he did wrong and he put his head down, stood in the middle of the penalty box, and pouted while the game continued. He’s lucky his head and assistant coaches are pretty laid back dudes. We just looked at each other and muttered, “What the hell is he doing?”[1]

Later in the game this kid asked to play goalie. When we said no his response was, “But I’m one of the best defenders on the team!” Before you say, “Well he did make a good goalie play there,” I’ll let you know the two times we’ve put him in goal this season he’s literally run away from the ball when he had a chance to pick it up. One time he made an amazing save as he fled. He had his back to the ball, was running away, and the ball pinned between his legs. He tripped and fell, but he saved the shot!

We have a group of about four knucklehead boys on the team, that kid included. They never pay attention, at practice they’re always pushing each other, kicking each other’s balls across the field when we’re trying to do drills, etc. I spend about 35% of practice yelling at them to shut up and listen to what the head coach is trying to teach them. Last week I got sick of telling them the same thing over-and-over and told them the next time someone kicked a ball when they weren’t supposed to, they were going to have to run laps.

Mr. Best Defender on the Team raised his hand and said, “What’s a lap? I want to run one! Coach, what’s a lap?”

I just walked away. Later I told the head coach and he muttered, “Make him fucking run it if he wants to run one.”

Youth sports!

  1. Also fun is apparently S yelled the same thing from where she was sitting, not knowing the kid’s mom was right in front of her. I think the mom is kind of used to it, though, and may have said the same thing.  ↩