One staple of the blog that I’ve ignored of late is the Kid Sports update. So, here is a long-ass post with too many details about what our girls have been up to.

M and C have been playing volleyball for the last couple of months. C returned after taking a year off and really enjoyed it. She’s still pretty spazzy on the court – there’s no other way to put it – and often that cancels out her natural athleticism. She also developed a bad habit of hitting the ball the wrong way. Her intent was clear: she was often trying to pass the ball to one of the few girls on her team that could hit. But sometimes she did it by passing the ball from the net to the back row. If you’ve not a volleyball aficionado, that is a less-than-ideal pass.

Her team – the sixth grade B team – struggled early, I believe they lost their first four matches. But they came on late, winning two of their last three, including a nervy, three-set win against the team that we bet will win the season-ending tournament. That was fun!

However, there’s something about this class… I’ve shared this during kickball seasons but the observation remains: these girls just struggle to show enthusiasm, they don’t have a leader, and if one girl gets down the entire team falls part. They had a really good coach this year – C said he was her favorite coach she’s had in any sport – but since he wasn’t a parent of anyone on the team, teaches at another school, and is super nice and positive, I think he had a hard time pushing these girls to improve their mental game. We know there were a couple personality conflicts within the team, too, that did not help.

I’m not sure what the coach, or any coach for that matter, could have done differently. I don’t think you can yell and scream at sixth grade girls. That would just make this group shut down even more. It’s frustrating because they have a bunch of good athletes and they are capable of playing better. But the hive mind takes over and sabotages them.

Yesterday was their first game of the City tournament. They lost the first set fairly handily but then had a six-point lead in the second set and seemed poised to push it to a deciding set. Until they fell apart again. They ended up losing the second set 25–21 to close their season.

C had fun, which was the important thing. I haven’t asked her yet if she’ll play again next year. We were just glad she had something to help her burn off some energy in the winter.

M’s team was about the complete opposite of C’s. They were the 8th grade B team, and had a couple girls that just missed making the A team that really pulled up the talent level. They went 5–2 in the regular season with their tournament starting next weekend.

M became a setter this year, and primarily played front row. Which was fine, except for the fact that one of her teammates who could have been on the A team is also a setter and has played club for four years. So a lot of time M just stood around and tried not to get in the way. She was generally subbed out when her spot came up to serve; I think she only got 3–4 chances to serve all season. Which was fine because she’s never wanted to practice outside of the season and was about the only girl on her team who still served underhanded.

I think all that bothers her a little. But she’s also always been more interested in being a member of a team than in how she performs. And over the past year she’s become pretty tight with a small group of classmates, a couple of which were on her team, which makes her enjoy the team even more.

As I said, they are 5–2 and generally play really well and are fun to watch. Their two losses were both very close. In their final home game they got pushed to a third set after blowing through the first set easily. They had serve, our best server started the set off, and she proceeded to serve 15-straight points to get the win. It’s not like she was serving ace after ace, either. The other team was doing a solid job returning but our girls just kept making plays. I think it got to 7–0 or 8–0 and then the other team just kind of gave up and we finally started getting some aces. It was crazy to watch, and we’re hoping that girl still has some of that serving in her when the tournament starts.

Also the volleyball program did a cool thing last Wednesday at the A team’s final home game. They invited M’s team to come and get introduced before the game with them. The seventh graders made signs for all the eighth graders and they were announced as one team. It was a nice way to end M’s CYO sports career.

As for L, she had zero interest in playing volleyball. Well, if she could have played on the boys team she might have been talked into it. She went home with one of her buddies after school and then went to his team’s practice. They let her serve and apparently she was ripping overhand serves. She still says volleyball is dumb because you can’t run.

Instead she’s been going to a weekly soccer shooting camp that’s run by a local high school coach. It is a small group – I think they’ve never had more than nine kids – that ranges from ages 8 to 14 with more boys than girls, so it’s been a good experience for her. She’s always been a natural and I never wanted to fix things that might not be technically correct but still worked for her. Her coach played national level soccer for his home country beginning when he was in his teens and then played professionally in the US. His son plays in the MLS currently. The guy knows what he’s doing. And he is great with the kids. She has learned a lot and I’m hopeful one day it will warm up so we can get outside and work on what she’s picked up. I think she will likely continue to take classes from him going forward as we figure out what the next step for her in soccer is.

As far as spring sports go, M is out. Some of her classmates decided to play CYO soccer but she had no interest. Eighth graders generally do not play spring kickball because they take their DC trip in the middle of the season. Her coaches and I decided last fall between that and the inevitable spring weather issues it wasn’t worth trying to make it work.

C is going to play kickball and we’ve finally talked her into running track. As good as she is at cross country, I think she can be even better at track. She has middle distance sprinter written all over her. I’m going to help coach her kickball team this year. A few weeks ago she asked me, “When I’m in eighth grade, can you help coach my team?” I told her I was going to help this year and she got very excited. That made me quite happy.

I am “forcing” L to play kickball again after taking the fall off. If she moves into a club soccer program next year she won’t have time for kickball anymore so I figured I should use my powers as coordinator to get her on the team one more time. She also decided to play CYO soccer so she can play with her classmates, although a couple of the classmates she wanted to play with the most ended up not playing. I was kind of against her playing CYO soccer. I’ve heard from other parents it’s kind of a mess because of the mix of grades – her team runs fourth through sixth grades – and talent. Fortunately she went to some clinics her coach ran last summer so he has an idea of her skill level and I don’t think the older boys will be able to push her aside.

Last Saturday they played in a 4-on–4 futsal tournament. It was a little strange because they made the team from the entire St. P’s program, so L was the only fourth grader on a team that had mostly seventh and eighth graders. She was about the smallest kid on the court and some of the rules restrictions slowed her, too. She didn’t score but came close twice and made a couple really good passes.

(Futsal is basically indoor soccer on a hard surface – in this case a basketball court – with out-of-bounds lines instead of walls. They played a variation this week that was without goalies, but also prevented the offense from shooting inside the basketball lane. That’s where she makes her money so she had a hard time getting good scoring opportunities.)

She had her first official CYO soccer practice yesterday, again in the gym because of the weather. C’s first track practice is next week. And I’m going to try to start kickball practice in two weeks, weather permitting. Then, as soon as we get back from spring break, the games/meets will begin.