Making Gains – The “First” Soccer Game

Last spring, when Ana begged to play soccer, her first 5 games (out of 6), she was THAT child on the team.  You know which child I am talking about: the one that has fun, her way, no matter what the coach says or does.  The one who is hopping like a rabbit during drills.  The one that kicks the ball and tries to make sure her shoe comes flying off.  The one who laughs and squeals, when no one else is laughing.  The one who purposely falls into the net.  You know the one child on the team who has NO INTEREST in the sport.  After last spring’s fiasco, after a year of watching her behave this way in many sports: t-ball, swimming, gymnastics, we removed Ana from all organized sports until fall.  Even then, we only gave her another chance because she is older, calmer, and begged us to let her try again.

“I promise, I will listen this time.”  I love my girl, but I know her, and I signed her up, but I honestly did not believe her.

At dinner tonight, we, for the millionth time this week, went over the behavior rules in soccer.

“I will listen to my coach.  I will do what he says,” she promised.  I wanted to believe her.  I know she means what she says at the time, but the girl is not competitive and she loves to have fun, her way.

We showed up early, found our field, and waited as a family.  When I wanted to take her picture with my phone, this is the attitude that I got:

Needless to say, I was sure afraid that this fall was destined to be a big, fat repeat of last spring.  (Anissa, if you are reading this, I am guessing you are laughing, because YOU KNOW what I am talking about!)

When her coaches took the field, she walked over, confidently.  (Please notice, I said the girl walked, if you know Ana, you know she doesn’t walk.  She skips, hops, and bounces, but walking just isn’t her thing.)  Scott and I set up chairs, brought our books, and were ready to try not to watch another disaster season.  (Yes, we are those parents.  Judge us if you want, but it is SUPER hard to just watch your child misbehave over and over.  She is our second, and we have witnessed this behavior, many times. We have learned how to cope.)

I looked up during drills and saw Ana standing in line, with her foot on the ball!  I quickly grabbed my camera, hoping that she had turned a new leaf.  When it was her turn to kick the ball into the net, she did it!  Scott, McCartney and I cheered like she scored an actual goal.  You have to understand the train wreck that we watched week after week, last season to understand our reaction.

During the game, my girl, actually ran after the ball.  She even kicked it a few times.  She was in the middle of the 5 year old pig pile, trying to get the ball!  When she wasn’t where the action was, she was running after the action, trying to catch up.  She only came over for a drink, when her coach brought in another player and it was her turn to sit out.  Not once, did she ask to leave the game.

Over on the sidelines, Scott, McCartney and I were cheering so loud.  We kept giving her a thumbs up, and couldn’t praise her efforts enough.  It was going so well.  Of course, the game was probably about 5 minutes too long, because in the last minute, a boy on the other team, hit her head right on her ear.  Our girl, who had been stepped on, kicked, and thrown around the field cried and cried.  She was done with soccer today.  Who could blame her?

On the way home, McCartney said, “Ana, I am so proud of you!”  Despite the tears, still sitting her on cheeks, Ana smiled.

She admitted, “When I grow up, I just want to be a Mommy and a teacher.”

“Oh, Ana, when you play sports, it’s for childhood fun.  You don’t have to have dreams of being a pro.  You can play just for the fun of playing soccer,” I reassured.

“Ok.  Maybe I will play again next week.”

I sure hope so! Tonight’s game was SO FUN to watch (for the first 55 minutes anyway), and we all can’t wait for next week’s game.  I think our little Ana is actually growing up!

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6 thoughts on “Making Gains – The “First” Soccer Game

  1. You give me hope that Garrett will maybe be better next year. His first game this past week involved him playing for maybe 10 minutes….which really involved him semi-running at least 10 feet behind the rest of the kids. He then decided that he didn’t want to play anymore so he just sat on the side and came over VERY frequently for water. Very frustrating!
    We have bribed him for next time with ice cream afterwards in hope that it will motivated him to at least want to play the game next time, or maybe next year… =)

  2. I had a child just like that. Except our sport was baseball! Like you, I was very thankful after that first year that he calmed down and enjoyed playing, while listening to the coaches. Your pictures are beautiful! Loved them all, especially the black and white ones!

  3. Yeah for Anna! So hear you as we had to DRAG Alivia and Asher to play soccer in the spring. With all that was going on, I just could not do it again this fall. Way to go to keep trying…she (and you) did amazing! 🙂

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