A wonderful thing happened to me on the way to one of my son’s games: I fell in love with soccer.
I started watching like a fan, not a parent.
My son got to play three games as a freshman JV starter this year — only one of them a season opener — because he injured his MCL badly.
Nobody would fault us for staying home and giving soccer a rest. He’s out for the rest of the season, he’s off the team, right?
Wrong, he’s still a part of the team, whether he plays or not. He earned that slot, fair and square. When he recovers, he will try out again next Feb., and the next, and the next, for as long as his school will have him or as long as soccer remains his first love.
My impulse was to make him attend every game and every practice. A talk with a trusted friend affirmed that impulse. Not only is she a former athlete, her husband’s my son’s former Select soccer coach; our sons have played together for many years.
“The coaches will be impressed.”
They both made JV. It was one of the happiest days of our lives.
When her son injured out of basketball, she made him go to every game and practice. Another mom said she did the same; they even traveled to Vancouver for a game.
I compromised with my son. Every game, even away. I don’t care if other kids think he’s crazy. One even suggested he only attend home games. Fuck that.
If he can’t understand why going to every game is the right thing to do, then I’ve failed as his mom. He can blame me to his friends: “My mom’s making me.” Somewhere in the back of his mind, though, I can tell, he knows why this is important, more important than falling back into his usual bad habit of oversleeping and watching endless YouTube.
The last away game had me absolutely glued to my seat. I’ve grown to enjoy watching these young men play soccer. They’re really good, like, professional soccer stars good. I’m not used to seeing good players who know their positions, who can hold their own, and who often must figure it out for themselves when the scoreboard turns against them.
The Varsity team’s really special. Last year, they made it State, only to lose out early on. This time, they seem even more determined to win. Currently, six games in, they’re undefeated.
Friday night, they almost watched that record disappear, as a tough, tenacious, and speedy Lake Stevens team left most of the starting players completely disoriented.
A neighbor friend of my son’s took charge, as I suspected he would. I even yelled out once, “Soren, goal!”
After holding a tenuous lead, then watching a tie coming at them, Soren surged ahead to score two goals, back to back, cementing his team’s lead until the very end. Final score 5-3, but that doesn’t even begin to cover the sheer athleticism and Soren’s clever deliberation.
This kid can do it all, pass, header, run (he broke a record for pacer in middle school), goal, destroy. He causes opponents to look like complete idiots, panting after air, or worse, racking up yellows.
He also trained my son since the two were in grade school. Every spare moment they weren’t getting in trouble or getting in a stupid fight, they were talking soccer, playing soccer video games, or practicing soccer moves. Soren was the one who showed my son how to kick the ball, and get excited about something beyond himself.
I’ve always wanted to watch Soren play competitively. Because he’s two years older, I haven’t been able to. Believe me, James has been dying to play on the same team just once.
Even if my son isn’t on the pitch, I’m still going to be in the stands cheering the teams on, both the JV and Varsity. Even if James can’t make a game for whatever reason, even if it fucking pours down rain, sleet, and snow, I’ll be in the stands somehow, watching the Varsity team make State, one game at a time.
If the weather’s clear enough, I’ll even take some pictures while I’m at it.
Maybe, just maybe, James will bounce back from his MCL sprain to make Varsity next year and play with Soren. It’ll be Soren’s senior year, James’ last chance.
Fingers crossed. Knock wood.