Dylan's just completed her first ever organized sport: pee-wee soccer. Unlike t-ball, which is slow and painful to watch, pee-wee soccer is a fast-paced, nail-biting, painful sport to watch. At one point during the season, I thought wagering on the games would spice up the action. Apparently, it's frowned on as we "don't keep score" and doesn't promote "good sportsmanship." I had to be a little stealth about it, but I managed to offer Dylan five candy bars of her choosing if she scored a goal. Sure, some would call that "bad parenting," but you should have seen her hustle. One of the other dads heard my motivational strategy and doubled the offer for his son if he would, for once, "Just kick the damn ball." Both kids burned off a lot of energy trying, and both dads never had to pay up, so win-win.
This season, the league had seven teams. It seems like a lot, but consider there are only five players to a team. Pee-wee soccer often looks like a rugby scrum, with every single player, goalies included, roiling around a ball that no one seems to be looking for. Limit the number of players and you limit the size of the scrum -- it's good logic. The fun thing about our league is that if you have an extra kid, say, one that's too young to play yet, no one cares if the younger sibling throws on a jersey and plays for a while. We tried to keep a short leash on Grady, but he often wandered out onto the pitch, much like a streaker or lost cat, and disrupted the games a few times.
We started the season with just one practice. It began with no one listening to the coach's instructions and ended with everyone using the sideline cones as hats. Christina, the coach, has the patience of a saint. After that practice, she asked if we should try another before our first game. "Would it matter?" I asked. It wouldn't, so we didn't. What the Pacific Power Blue Jets lacked in talent and skill, they made up for it in lack of concentration and goofiness. We knew we were in for it when, upon arriving to our first game, I spied the other team running passing drills and stressing "teamwork." It was like playing against a German olympic squad. "Klaus, why are you not running? Stop crying! Teamwork!" "Nine, Dietra, stay in your zone." Needless to say, they kicked our butts. The Blue Jets spent the entire game picking the ball out of the back of our goal. That team soon became known around the league as The Team That No One Liked.
The Blue Jets improved significantly as the season progressed. If our games were two, instead of four, quarters long, we'd of had a winning record. But, while other teams replenished electrolytes and talked game strategy at the breaks, our team took the cones and chased each other around the field, pretending they were unicorns. They were so exhausted by the third quarter that no one wanted to run anymore.
The last game ended with cupcakes, candy, and trophies. Dylan was awarded "Most Enthusiastic," which is coach-speak for The Kid Who Won't Stop Running. Dylan still sleeps with her trophy and talks about the goal she made, so the experience was a good one. The Blue Jets could care less what the final scores were or how they played. They had fun, they spazzed out, and now they're ready to hone their skills in the off-season so they can collect on those candy-bar bribes.