Fall sports have begun. Right now we are actively involved in five sports, with another to begin tomorrow. Joyous times.

The fall kickball season started last Monday. We have nine teams at St. P’s this year, and got off to a great 7-2 start on opening day. The two teams to lose? My girls’ teams.

C’s team, which I’m helping to coach, gave up four runs in the 7th to lose by one. They did not play all that well and I was honestly shocked that we had the lead going into the 7th. C absolutely blasted the first pitch of the season, maybe her most powerful kick ever, but had bad luck when it went to dead center and hit a telephone pole that is an automatic ground-rule double. A foot toward left field and she has an easy home run. As tends to happen, that got in her head and she didn’t play well the rest of the game. I told her before the game I just wanted her to play and have fun this year. I wasn’t going to get on her when she made mistakes. I took that pledge back when we got in the car after the game, though, when I had to ask her why she failed to field a couple balls that are normally easy plays for her. Teenage girls are a challenge, and she’s going to be our most challenging in terms of moods and how we push her to work through them without pushing too hard and making them worse.

L’s team was playing at the same time, against the team that beat them in the City championship game last spring. This game wasn’t much better, with our girls losing by 16. I talked to her coach afterward and she insisted it was one bad inning that killed us and we were fully capable of beating them if we played them again in a division championship game.

That opportunity went out the window Thursday when L’s team lost their second game, this time by just two runs. I was at this game and I have to say, I have no idea what has happened to L’s team. Last season they had four girls who could be relied on the blast the ball every time they kicked, then 2-3 others who might give you a big kick. They all, including L, kicked like crap Thursday. Worse, they kept kicking it directly to the pitcher who made play-after-play. This girl was the best player on the basketball team that gave L’s team their only two losses last fall, which made it worse. She’s a really good kid, but come on, girls, show some pride and beat her in something! Or at least make her work for it! L made an egregious mistake on the base paths that really cost us, too. That was more frustrating to me than the loss.

Cross country began on Saturday, which was an absolutely perfect day here in Indy. Sunny, cool in the morning, only in the 70s by late morning. Just a delightful day.

I went with M to her first ever race. The varsity boys and girls ran a Hokum Karem relay to start the day, then the JV kids ran a two-mile race. My goal for M was to 1) finish and 2) not be last. Success! She finished, even kicking in fairly strong at the end to pass a few girls. She was not last! She was very close to last, though. More importantly, she cut three minutes off her time trial time, which she was very pleased with. Overall it was a good experience. Next week is tougher as she has to run a full 5K. And, if nothing else, cross country has served its purpose for her by giving her a way to meet people, which opens the door to meet other people. She’s already hung out with several girls she’s either met directly through XC, or through a teammate.

C’s race was also a relay, and she was paired with St. P’s best 8th grade runner. This is the traditional first meet of the season and C has always run the flatter, faster leg or the relay. This time they gave her the hilly half. I don’t know if it was the tougher side of the trail, or other issues, but S texted me that C really struggled. She was fighting a bit of a cold and that may have affected her a bit. Or it could have just been whatever was in her head last week. But it took her a long time after the race to recover and she was very upset by her performance.

She had already told us she wasn’t enjoying cross country as much as in the past, but hasn’t really explained why. We think some of it is how much she enjoyed track, and how she’d rather run for 20 or 30 seconds than 13 or 14 minutes. I’ve been trying to motivate her by telling her that her times from last year are better than a lot of the high school runners’ times. But I also realize that as girls bodies begin to change, often their athletic abilities change. I was in a conversation a week ago with a few parents, discussing what sports we thought our kids might stick with in high school. One mom said, “Once girls get boobs and an ass, everything changes.” C’s body hasn’t changed that much from where it was a year ago, but it is changing, and maybe this is all just part of that process. I hope she can find a way to make the rest of the season fun again regardless of her times.

As I may have mentioned, CYO girls basketball has been moved earlier in the calendar because of dumbness. Teams were announced last weekend and L made the 5th-6h grade A team. We had a long talk before tryouts about the pros and cons of A team vs B team. She was excited to have a chance to play on the A team, but understood there’s a sixth grade point guard who made the A team last year that she would back up. And there would be fewer of her friends on the A team. While on the B team she would start, likely be the best player, play a ton of minutes, and be with more friends. She told me she was good either way.

And then she went out and rocked her tryout. I heard from the mom of a sixth grader that her daughter told her after, “L was the best player there today.” I don’t know if that’s true, but apparently she played really well and earned her spot. Two of her classmates also made the A team. I was a little surprised because one of those is also a point guard and I thought they might pick either L or her to keep on a B team. But that girl can also be turned into more of a wing so it may not be an issue.

They’ve had two practices so far and L is enjoying it. I think the coach, a mom I’ve coached with before, is really enjoying having to plan around two kickball schedules, a swimmer, several cross country runners, and a couple soccer players when she tries to get practices on the calendar. Glad it’s not me!

Oh, and L starts soccer practice tomorrow. This will be her final year in a rec league. We’ve heard that registrations were way down this year, so we don’t know if she’s going to play the same two teams over-and-over, or if her league will partner with another to find games. Once again she’s on a team that is a random mix of girls, which can be trouble at this age because they end up playing teams that stick together from season-to-season.