Girls Soccer Stories - The Tournament Part 1
It was a cold November weekend and my girl (I'll just call her Mia) didn't felt ready to play her first tournament game for the 13 and Under girls recreational league. She had been experiencing cramps in her upper right leg all week and all the stretching and massaging didn't make the pain go away. The first game was at nine on a Saturday morning and the entire family had to wake up at 7:30 to leave the house at eight to get to the field early. With Daddy’s and daughter’s work to prepare her room for painting the night before, it was really tough to get to bed early. So waking up was half the battle. Keeping the leg loose and staying warm were more things to combat.
A year ago in the 10 and Under league, she played about nine games and all were losses. Mia was not exactly thrilled to do another soccer season but knowing that her closest friends were going to be in the new team got her interested in participating. My observation of last year's games was that her team got outhustled and burned when it comes to getting to the ball. In other words, the other teams were just running circles around her and her teammates. I am not an expert of soccer by any stretch of the imagination. I respect that the volunteer coaches know what they're doing and I don't have any knowledge of soccer to give advice.
So Daddy did his homework and watched a video of youth
soccer skills. I studied a few easy
moves that I could teach my girl how to do in the backyard. One of them involves
foot movements that fake a defender to go one direction and then go past her
when advancing the ball. Mia was able to use these new skills and made it work.
(She was amazed that it did). But when
it comes to going for the ball, she and her teammates would always get beaten.
The videos of soccer skills went out the window. It was time for a new
approach. I taught her speed.
I knew my Mia would not care for running a mile with me. That would have helped her a lot. We just sprinted in the backyard from fence to fence. It was approximately 20 yards apart and the intent was to get her to hustle to the ball faster. After a few drills in the backyard, she was able to apply her new practical skills for the first time. The end result was her first goal ever after playing soccer three years prior. Mia felt good about that and daddy was more proud. My theory was proven. Speed matters more than skills. I waited to see if the coach would do anything to overcome the obvious problem with his team. There was nothing to suggest that he did.
Fast-forward a year later. Mia’s new team at 13U is really awesome. There are some older girls that will be bumped up next year and these girls are good and fast. The new team kept beating other teams by at least three or four goals. It seems like every final score would end up 4 to 1 in her team’s favor. The experience was surreal at first. Mia experienced the opposite of what happened the year before. She was having fun. The parents that had daughters in Mia’s team last year and were in Mia's team this year also noticed the difference. It just seemed like her team was invincible. The only thing to complain about was the weather. It seemed like every September and October game was hot and humid.
Things got cold on the last game of the regular season. Mia's team lost to a team that creamed her’s. The score was probably 1 to 6. Granted three players could not make that game. Two of them were top players. The team could only sub out two at a time while the other team could sub out four or five. The loss was not my real problem. It was the attitude of the other players in the opposing team. They were really cocky and their parents not far behind. Mia's team, the coach, and the parents associated with the team didn't felt bothered by the loss. Everyone was confident enough that next time would be a different story when all the girls are back.
The family blew their deadline of getting out of the house by eight. It took 10 minutes longer and another 10 minutes to defrost the ice on the windshield of the minivan. Mia was getting worried and Daddy was getting upset. You know how daddies get. They always blame things on the mom.
It looked like we were going to get there about 20 minutes before the game starts. That should be plenty of time for warming up. About 15 minutes into our trip to the tournament, we ran into roadwork. Mommy was cussing under her breath and Mia was really getting stressed out. We were at the mercy of road construction where the road crew was working on a two-lane road in the middle of nowhere.