Saturday, October 08, 2005

The "I" in Team

You all know our kid, Colin.

Very nice, 6-years-old, hangs back in most situations. Cautious, polite, a bit sensitive, a bit shy. Way too much like his parents at that age. Sure, he can be amazingly tough when faced with stitches or having his appendix out. Then, he rarely cries. A small scrape, however, and you'd think he was dying.

"So," we say, "let's put him in soccer. That'll toughen him up a bit. Teach him to compete as part of a team. Build friendships." There are two soccer clubs that practice in our wee town. One where the kids all have t-shirts hanging down to their knees, each "team" a different color, all the kids from the grade school, each set from 1 or 2 grades, depending on if said grades are combined (1st and 2nd or 4th and 5th) or not (kindergarten or 3rd). They seem to be grouped sort of by class. Friends playing together. Mis-matched shingards and hot-pink socks are fine. Most of the kids don't know what the hell they're doing. Two parent-coaches per team. The coaches, who are on the field with the kids, sort of herding them, like shepherds, calling out instructions and praise for the smallest thing, for the kids on both sides, as do the parents, who show up with chairs and blankets, sitting in clusters, all friends together.

The other team is sometimes there, at the other end of the vast field. They have the nylon official shirts, shorts, all matching shoes and socks and laces. We look at them, a bit cowed by their prowess. We do not mention them. That team cuts its players and has try-outs. On our teams, all the kids play and all the kids are cheered.

Most of "our" team's kids do get in there and go for the ball. They may not be going for the correct goal and more than once is a goal scored for the other team, but that is what makes it fun. Those goals are cheered just as loudly. Colin, bless his little cleats, dances at the back of the scrum. Occasionally foot meets ball, but mostly by random chance. Should he play little league baseball, he will be the kid out in left field looking at the clouds, his gloved hand at his side. He will spend the whole game out there, as he will not be focused enough on the action to know when it is time to change sides. He will be happy. He will lie on the grass.

Today, Charles decided to take matters into his own hands. On the drive down to the field, he tells Colin that he gets a sundae for every goal he scores. Colin negotiates the getting a sundae for every goal scored today. As he has yet to come close, Charles readily agrees. After pausing to calculate the number of sundaes should he score 100 goals, Colin proclaims himself on-board. He then decided that, instead of the sundaes, he would prefer to get donuts from the local bakery. The World's Best Donuts. Things waver as Charles makes sure he understands the fine print, meaning that only the goals Colin scores count, not the ones scored by his teammates. After some hesitating on behalf of the boy, he signs on. Let it be clear here, though, this is incentive aimed to get him actually in the game, we truly don't care if he never scores in his life, we just want him to get in there and play rather than wander around vaguely in the vicinity of the action.

The game starts. It is 4-on-4 unless one of the kids needs a bit of a time out after a ball in the face or something, then it is 3-on-3, sort of. Colin hangs back as usual. He waves his arms. He runs with the rest of the heard and does sometimes kick the ball. He seems to be having fun.

Then, with 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter, the heavens part and the music swells. Colin is suddenly alone, 3 feet from the center of the goal with the ball at his feet. All the other players are at least a few feet from him. "Kick the ball, Colin!" his coach calls. He kicks the ball.

A goal for our Boo.

A Bad News Bears moment. Timmy catches the fly ball.

Colin's face is one of delight. He grins at us. We cheer and clap. He raises his arms. Game play resumes and Colin resumes his vague chasing of the ball, in the back of the action, perhaps even less attentive, but can you blame him?

Afterward, we have hugs and congratulations and head off to buy The World's Best Donuts (if Colin gets one, we all do, of course) with the World's Best Son.

Can't beat that.



Blogger CarpeDM said...

Diana, love the story of Colin and his goal. I would love it if Josh played soccer but Kari thinks it'll probably be basketball, he loves them. Yes. We're already planning his sports career at the age of 2.

I think I like the idea of your team versus the other team much more. I have never liked those parents that get way too involved in sports and cutting kids at the age of 6? Isn't that a bit much? Yikes.

11:40 PM  
Blogger Babs said...

No one ever gave me doughnuts for playing soccer.

Some parents DO get ridiculous like the cutting 6 year olds from the team types.

I have the unfortunate shame of being the daughter of the man who was asked to coach 4 & 5 year olds in baseball.

He was promptly de-coached when he called one of the kids out for being outside of the batters box lol

11:00 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Dana- Sadly, not much money here in the States in soccer, he'd have to go to Europe or elsewhere to keep us in the money. Basketball is much more lucrative, here, so Kari is on the right track. (KIDDING!)

Babs- Really? The Old Man coached littlest league? Calling kindergartners out. That's so cruel. Heh heh heh. Maybe not such a good coaching fit. Good story, though.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A doughnut?!?! The poor lad is scarred for life.

His grandpa actually got 2 hits at 20 at-bats in the 8th grade for a .100 batting average. Upon closer scrutiny, it was determined that the 2 hits were actually errors. Stupid fielders.

Coaching Middle School track with too few runners, got me rooked into pizza after the district meet. 7 runners and me in a VW Rabbit with 14 balloons is not a pretty sight. But the balloons were free and all gone by the time we reached the street.

The Ole RF-er

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Kate W. said...

Absolutely Awesome!

9:55 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Wow, the power of donuts!

11:06 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

'Tis the wise parent that knows the power of the bribe!

11:08 PM  
Blogger Cagey said...

Good old fashioned bribery. LOVE IT. :-)

10:47 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Dad- See, the power of bribes.

Kate- Thanks! It was pretty cool.

Jame- You know it! I am a donut junkie, myself.

Teri- The best bribes are the ones you (ahem) get to partake in, too, you know.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Cagey- Taking notes, hon?

10:59 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

I would have taken the sundae, myself. :)

Congrats to Colin on his goal!


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