Well, the Spring 2012 edition of soccer is over, and I am pleased to report it was a great success. I am also glad to report that this experience helped me redefine how I view success. Soccer took some getting used to for both boys, and they still have a lot to learn. I would love for them both become lifelong soccer fans like I am, but I am OK with it if they don't. More than anything, I found out that kiddie soccer is as much about teaching the parents as it is helping the kids learn the game. Here are some of the lessons I learned from watching Sam and Nate play soccer:

  1. Stay in the game: This was harder than I thought it would be, but the most important thing I could encourage Sam and Nate to do was to stay in the game. Not to come off the field when they got bored or tired or frustrated. Stay in the game and try your hardest until the coach tells you to take a rest. We could all use reminders on this lesson from time to time. Such as when I post to my blog instead of grading final projects.
  2. Sometimes you can make things happen, and other times you have to just watch them happen: This was the biggest lesson for me. No amount of cheering and encouraging and coaching was going to make Sam and Nate be more aggressive, kick harder or run faster. My job was to let them play in their own style, even that involved running laps around the other players, and praise them for doing their best. If they decide they love this game and want to get better, then I will start coaching them more. For now, they still think running is fun and if they get to kick the ball, it's a bonus.
  3. There is value in the experience: I don't know how much the soccer skills improved for both boys, but I view the entire experience of playing organized soccer to be extremely valuable. They got to meet new friends, get a lot of exercise, learn to take instructions from a coach, play by a set of rules, wear the team uniform and compete with other kids who want to kick the ball as much as the boys do.
  4. No matter how well you play, you get a snack and juice box: Not to mention a trophy at the end of the season. This was by far the best part of the game for both boys. Knowing they would get a treat after game gave them just enough motivation to push themselves a little harder. Actually, that's not how it worked at all. It's nice to know that there are some things in life that don't depend on performance. You get them just because. Love, acceptance, respect and encouragement also fit into this category.

So, there you have it ... Soccer 2012. I'm glad we did it, I hope we do it again, and more than anything I want the boys to find something they love to do and reach outside themselves to pursue it with their whole heart.