But it's only......

What you see is not always what it is about.

For the past ten years, I have spent many hours on a soccer field. Whether it be the field located at the school my son attends, or one of the many fields in my community, I am found there, cheering, talking with friends, enjoying my children and their passion.

The people I stand amongst are there for the same reason, they love and support their children. They do not always want to be out in the intense heat and damp rain, but they come, umbrellas, hot coffee and iced water in hand.

The soccer program I have been affiliated with has grown in leaps and bounds since the day my college age nephew stepped on the field to play when he was only 5 years old. At my brother's insistence, we signed my son up when he turned age 5. My brother told us to look around, and see those we stood with. Know that they are your best friends for the next several years. They will stand beside you, feel the pain of games lost and the triumphs of great victories. They will be with you and your kids through thick and through thin.

Soccer was uncharted territory in my home. My husband had coached and played basketball, baseball and golf. He had never put shoelace to soccer ball and did not know the first thing about the game he was now sitting on the sidelines to watch. A basketball coach who had coached as high as Division 1 college, this was indeed quite an experience for him. Two years into my son's training, he was pursued by parents to run my son's team. He was a bit bewildered. Soccer? Basketball he could coach in his sleep, but soccer?

Still he bit the bullet and learned as much as could taking a 9 hour class in not such great weather conditions so that he could be licensed to coach this team. He poured over soccer lesson plans and watched soccer games so that he could give the children who were 8 year old boys, the best experience possible. The team he took over were a typical group of 2nd grade boys who liked to run around and scream, knock each other down and not pay attention to a word he was saying. Still he trudged ahead and tried to instill in each and every one of these boys that they were players. That they were a team with a common goal to work together, win together, lose together but most importantly learn and have fun.

Many years later, that team finished undefeated. They were a pleasure to watch and a well oiled machine. But more importantly they had good sportsmanship and had developed into great team players, good friends and nice young gentleman ready for High School. The goal had been met and mastered. Many of these young gentleman come back to their soccer club to teach and coach the younger players. It is a beautiful thing to see.

Somewhere along the coaching trail, the position of leader and director was placed into my husband's lap thus thrusting our family deep into the world of recreation soccer. We grew and grew as our daughter began to play and develop a love of the sport. She now plays on two teams, She cannot get enough of being at the field playing and learning. The club has grown to a place where trainers can come and build on the skills necessary for preparing the players for any level of play they wish to aspire to.

We added a concession stand. The concession stand was met with welcome arms because the nearest store is a car drive away. At first it was snacks and drinks but it grew to a full service stand with various foods, both hot and cold. However, it was more than the food that drew our families to our stand. It was the atmosphere. At any moment one could walk up to the service window and strike up a conversation with one of the many consistent volunteers who were part of our group. If one needed assistance, first aid, if items were lost, there was a place to turn to. The addition of lovely picnic tables complete with umbrellas set the scene for a great day for all soccer families when they visited our field. A place to congregate, to be a real family.

Recently for some unknown reason, this stand was closed. No explanations have been given. This is truly not unusual. In today's world, many major decisions are made by those who are do not even have a bird's eye view of what they are making a judgement upon. There are new directives and rules handed out from afar and no matter what is said and done, the bottom line is one must be about the choices made by others. Arguing and making a fuss is not always an option that will yield positive results.

So as we clean out the stand and look to the future with new plans and ideas, we hear comments such as "it is only a stand, no worries, no stress." But it was not only a stand. It was the core. It was like a beating heart. It pumped the life blood into people.

From the oldest of times people have come together over banquet tables, to feast, to eat together. Fellowship is best formed over a meal or a coffee and cake hour. Ask any Italian or Greek family what draws them together, a family meal, what they are going to eat together so that they can draw themselves closer and align themselves as a true united front. Yes indeed arguments among family members happen, but somehow they always seem to dissipate when the plates of pasta are presented to the table or the deliciously basted turkey makes it's appearance.

So to say to, it is only.... a stand, a soccer club, a game, is to misunderstand the mission. The mission of how one becomes a family. I for one have not missed it. I hope and pray that our mission to keep our family strong and healthy continues for many many years.


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