Go to the ball!

The title of this post is something I heard approximately 8 million times at varying levels of volume during my 4-year tenure as manager of the high school boys' soccer team. We had a scrawny little science teacher who was one of those lightning fast players "back in the day" so he took on a bunch of truly lazy teenage boys and tried to whip them into shape. We had a few stellar players who grew up on soccer fields as kids, but two standouts do not make a winning team in the competitive world of high school soccer in the late 1980's. So I traveled to games and I stayed late after school at practices and I dutifully marked stats during the games and I slugged giant bags of balls around and I filled up coolers with ice water, all to watch us lose miserably. It had its moments of fun, and I made some friends, and I think sitting on the bus headed to an away game kept the teenage boys from being teenage boys. Maybe that's why the coach had me as manager all those years.

I promise this story has a point.

One evening in May, Brian was surfing online and found the local community's soccer league signup page. He promptly entered his information and signed up Helen for fall soccer.

Later, he told a friend at work that he had signed her up, and mentioned some fear about her ability to learn how to play the game. His friend reassured him, however, that there is only one play in soccer for children this age.

Here's the field and the ball:

Here are the children in a circle around the ball:

This play moves around the field at random. Kind of like Pong.

I realized that all those years I've watched children playing soccer, that man was dead-on accurate. Once you realize that, weekly "practice" becomes a little unnecessary. Which was a good thing, too, because 100+ heat index every afternoon last week cancelled the first practice.

Helen is on an under-6 team of 8 girls, playing 4-on-4 soccer on a half-field. Brian took her to her first game this afternoon and got some great pictures of the team playing. She had a lot of fun, but after she got home she confessed to me that she did not score any goals. Brian said they didn't really keep score or track who "won" the game, but it ended as a victory for her team at 4-3. Because Brian definitely counts those things.

So here's the point of the whole story: if memory serves, that total score represents more goals than the boys' high school team scored my entire freshman year. I'll bet those little girls had a better defense, too.

ZING! Here's where all my Facebook friends from high school stop reading my blog.

Brian told me there is one ringer on Helen's team, who runs like a gazelle being chased by hungry lions. Only in this case, the gazelle also dribbles a soccer ball, and once in a while, the lions play for your own team. You see, it was kind of unclear for some of the girls that they didn't have to fight each other for the ball. Which was amusing for the referees and parents alike.

Here's Helen before the game with her team, getting final instructions - she's the one in pigtails smiling at the camera instead of listening to her coach:

Here's Helen, in her lucky #7 jersey, running out onto the field to sub in for her first play:

Here's Helen running The One Play:

Here's Helen celebrating successfully running The One Play for several seconds in a row:

Wish us luck on a fun season. Once college football starts up, we may discover that Brian has signed me up for soccer, too.

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