Hearing the whistle blow at the end of the last club game my daughter Reaganne will ever play set an emotional yet reflective moment for me as a parent.
I think it is safe to say that sports play a big part in our lives. At a given time I had two kids playing five sports all in this fall season. Up until this year when my youngest gave up school soccer and travel soccer to focus solely on golf, it would be fair to suggest that soccer completely took over our family life and I loved every moment of the schedule juggling. I was a self-proclaimed “soccer mom” and never felt the sport got the respect it deserves.
Being a part of these teams is undoubtedly a commitment. It’s not just our time that we faithfully contributed, but we also endured financial, emotional and physical tolls, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask why on earth did we do it.
The amount of money we spent on club fees, uniforms, equipment costs – not to mention hotels when they travel – and eating out three times a day for the tournament weekend is insane. It would be cheaper not to put them in soccer, pay their college tuition in full without so much as a thought about possible scholarships, and have our lives back completely in the meantime.
But it’s not about the scholarships in the end. It’s not because we think our kids will play college soccer or represent USA in the Olympic Games, although believe me we witness parents who behave like they do on a regular basis. For us it’s to provide our kids with another dimension of education.
Teaching children about team involvement is surely one of the most important things we can offer as parents. Whether it’s through the music with the youth choir, acting with the school drama club, ballet at a local dance studio or primarily soccer as we have chosen with our children, learning to work hard and be a positive and contributory part of a team is a tool that can only enhance the development of our children in every single aspect of their lives.
After all, the world is not about singular people. The world is a community and even though it doesn’t always seem like there is much that the world can all come together for, team involvement – sport in this instance – is something that bonds people, excites groups and unites communities and countries alike.
Take the 2014 World Cup for example. There aren’t many sports in which America puts together a team that represents the nation as a whole (Olympics aside) and the ability to witness the fastest growing youth sport in the country be able to draw such amazing crowds has been nothing short of a miracle in the eyes of soccer families.
The thrill of team spirit, learning to celebrate together, having to work through disappointments as a group – both emotionally and physically – and above all believing that with your team (school and club) anything is possible are all attributes that we want our children to experience and to be able to use in their futures. We have dealt with wins and losses, but always embraced valuable lessons along the way.
Despite the crazy schedule we dealt with, our choices are with purpose, they are for good reason and they are all geared towards guiding and raising happy, hardworking, well-rounded and positive children who in time we hope will be assets to their own communities and will be able to use their own experiences of being part of a team to continue to educate and inspire the next generation after them.
This time has gone so fast and we have endured a variety of sports, teams, coaches and leagues. We made lifelong friendships through sports. In this Publisher’s Pick I would like to recognize Gaston United Soccer Club, Tatum Bourque and the game of soccer. As Reaganne puts her cleats away and moves on into the next phase of her life, she takes with her the proud moments of wearing GUSC blue her entire club soccer career and the wisdom and professionalism of her leader and coach, Tatum Bourque. He taught these young ladies so much more than soccer and they will carry these lessons throughout their entire lives. He led by example and could silence his sideline parents at the mere words “my parents” during the many times we disagreed with a referee’s call. He showed the girls how to respect authority and that life is not always fair. Tatum sacrificed time with his own beautiful family to show his commitment to this club and his team, which he saw through an undefeated season. His dedication and love for this game is infectious. As that last whistle was blown I was proud to still wear that GUSC blue, and know that lifetime friendships were made and lessons learned which we’ll carry through all of our lives.
Remember that winning is not always determined by the score. Sometimes it takes a loss to build a champion.