Friday, May 28, 2021

Avery's Test of Mettle...or Medal

This is the last soccer post I will have for a little while.  The season is over as is tournament weekend.  In a previous post I mentioned that we were one weekend away from a chance at an undefeated year, for all three of the girls.  That weekend came and went and the girls remained undefeated.  It was a fun season.  Tournaments can be different. 

Way different.

Tournaments tend to be a place for the best teams to showcase their skills.  It is a place where an undefeated local team can get their doors kicked in on a bigger stage.  A place where dreams of grandeur meet the nightmare of reality.

My wife and I are well versed in this.  In years past, Macy, my middle daughter played for a team that was the deliverer of reality to unsuspecting teams.  My eldest, Avery, has always been the recipient. 

Macy has a shelf full of trophies and medals from tournaments.  These are not participation awards.  They are bonafide articles of battles won.

Avery has always looked longingly at that shelf. 

She had a great season and declared in the days leading up to the tournament “I’m coming home with a medal”. 

Poor sweet Avery.  Her teams, in the half decade she’s been going to tournaments, has won just one single game.  Just one.  I loved her attitude, but the odds were stacked in the nightmare’s favor.

My wife was out of town running a trail race in Moab (a story for another post) so I knew it was going to be me to wipe the weekends tears.  The first game was against a team that they had beat during the season. We had a feeling that they would win their first game, but it would get dodgy after that. 

We were right.  On the first day of the tourney, they won their first game, 3-0 and Avery played well and had a goal.  The second game that day was tougher.  It took a late goal to earn a tie.  The girls looked a little out of their depth.  They may have been a little lucky. 

Avery was a bag of nerves that night.  She had hurt her foot and was concerned about her ability to play at the level she wanted to. We stayed in a hotel with the team and being surrounded by her friends on the team was a pressure relief valve for her but her “taking a medal home no matter what” proclamation had lost its luster a bit. There was some positive math for the team.  If they won their next game they would make the championship game, and more importantly, if they make the championship game they get a medal, it may be silver, but it’s a medal none the less. 

Avery was nervous when she woke up.  We went down to breakfast and Avery sat quietly eating a bit distracted.  We talked but she was absent.  She got dressed and we made our way to the field. 

I saw something I don’t see in Avery very often.

I watched her settle herself.  Her face went from “all nerves” to “business”.  The game wasn’t five minutes old when Avery scored.  I may be a little biased, or completely so, but I believe that the early goal set the tone for the game.  The team won 7-0.  The girls played great.    They were in the championship.  Avery would get her medal. 

That wasn’t enough for Avery.  In the championship, Avery would score the team’s first goal again.  They would go on to win the trophy. 

Her smile was ear to ear, as was the rest of the team’s.  There was no clear MVP.  Everyone had played hard.  Everyone contributed.  They had exceeded their own expectations.  It was great.

The lesson here, ladies?  First of all, set your own boundaries.  If I were honest, I didn’t think you guys would bring home a medal.  Thank goodness you didn’t think the way I did.  Secondly, and most importantly, its about rising to the moment.  There are moments in your life that you either sink or you swim.  Moments that you will remember for the rest of your life, with joy when your succeed or with regret if you crumble a bit.  It makes me proud that you made your declaration and then backed it up.  I’m proud of you, regardless.  In that I am totally biased, but last weekend, you put an exclamation point on it.  You played well, you were unselfish and you were a leader.  I would have been proud if you didn’t win a game last weekend.

But you did win a game last weekend.  A bunch of ‘em.  So, congratulations, sweetheart.  You’ve got your medal.  I hope the achievement outshines that little piece of metal.  Probably won’t bet here’s hoping!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

One Day...Three Possible Championships...Lots Of Potential Tears

 I was watching a YouTube video (do yourself a favor and type Foo Fighters Kiss Guy into YouTube *some bad language for those faint of heart).  A guy gets pulled out of the audience and gets to play guitar with the band.  Suffice it to say, he does not disappoint.  It got me thinking.  How do you perform when your number is called?  Do you rise to the occasion or crumble under the pressure?

Personally, I’ve done both.  I remember playing baseball and pitching on short notice with the knowledge that if we won, we would go to the state tournament.  I would pitch very well, and if my memories haven’t been corrupted by time, had a couple of important hits as well.  I also remember playing in a softball tournament years later that had I got a clutch hit with two outs in the bottom of the last inning, we would have taken home the trophy.  The lazy fly ball I hit insured the trophy would go to the bad guys. 

I suppose, in life, we all have these moments.

This weekend, any or all of my daughters may see such a moment.  The girls, and their spring soccer teams have combined for a record of 19-0-2 going into the last weekend of the season.  You would think, by the grace of God, that at least one of them would have already secured their league championship.  No such luck.  All three girls need to win their remaining game(s) to insure they win their respective divisions.  This is not really something we have needed concern ourselves with in the past.  Why is it we have to have these pressures for all three kids?  Maybe karma? Maybe lingering 2020 vibes?  Who knows.  Whatever the reason, this weekend could be a nail biter.  There could be high fives to give and cheeks to dry. 

I’m sure some would question my parenting when I say “I hope its all celebrations or all tear wiping”.  I dread two league championships and one second place finish, regardless of which kid finishes second.  I’ll brace for the hate mail.

Full disclosure, I don’t put a ton of stock in winning and losing.  I am definitely a “how you play the game” fella.  I think you push hard and let the chips fall where they may.  Leave it all on the field and you’ll sleep well regardless of the outcome. 

I truly believe that.

I am also in the minority.

All of the involved parties really want their respective first place finishes.  It looks like they will have to run the table for all of them to be happy.  Fingers crossed.

The lesson here, little girls?  Pretty straight forward.  There is some chance your number will get called this weekend.  That there may be a moment that you’ll remember for years to come that you either look back on fondly like my pitching to go to state or that you will bemoan like my failures on the softball field.  There is a certainty that your teams will need each of you to do your best to succeed.

You’ve all put in the work.  You’ve all practiced, listened and learned.  There is a philosophy to “let the training take over”. I suppose that’s fine, but I subscribe to a different train of thought. I believe you should live in the moment.  Enjoy it.  If you win, enjoy your trophy.  If you lose, lick your wounds and take your lesson.  Embrace the competition and let it move your cleats.

Regardless of how you approach the game, remember one thing, for your daddy’s sake, you all need to win or you all need to lose.  Thanks in advance.