Swim, Soccer and Some Other S#!t


Yesterday was a long-ass day!

Please excuse my profanity.  You see, I’m from New York.  According to a former New Yorker turned Connecticut-ite that I met with last week in Connecticut, it is socially acceptable to use profanity in your everyday conversations when you are in New York.  She went on to explain that it is not, however, acceptable in Connecticut.  I’m still trying to figure out why the f$%k she felt the need to tell me that.  A story for another day, I suppose.

Today, I want to talk about yesterday.

Yesterday started way too early for a Sunday morning.  My oldest daughter and I got up before the sun to head out to her final swim meet of the season.  She absolutely loves swimming and she loves her swim team, but even she was groaning when the alarm clock sounded.  We packed the necessities: 4 towels, one blanket, one robe, two pairs of goggles, a swim cap, team sweatshirt, a change of clothes and a small cooler full of snacks.  We stopped at our favorite bagel store for breakfast and then hit the road.

The hour-long car ride was uneventful.  We talked about some of the techniques that she should be mindful of during her events.  Things that might help her reach her goal of a personal best time in her breast stroke competition.  I offered what little knowledge I could.  I am not a competitive swimmer…or a competitive anything else for that matter.  I love that my daughter has found a sport that she loves and I am thrilled when she comes out of the water feeling excited.  But when her teammates are swimming alongside her in the same event, I cheer just as loud for them.

I played soccer as a kid.  Actually, if I might just toot my own horn here for a second, I was a soccer rock star as a kid.  I started young.  I was only five and I used to chew on the inside of my cheek when anticipating the start of another game.  I was always nervous, but I loved every second of it.  I suppose I did have some semblance of a competitive streak back then, because I absolutely loved the thrill of making the shot.  But, when tested, I took my soccer ball and my competitive streak and I went home.

You see, I played on an all girls team until I hit middle school.  I suppose most girls lost interest in the game by then.  Nobody encouraged them to stick it out and so they found other things to keep them busy.  But, I wanted to play.  My parents had always been supportive.  They registered me every year and they made it to every game – even though they had three other kids to think about.  And when I said that I wanted to continue playing, they didn’t hesitate.  They registered me and I was ready to play.  The difference this time?  It was a co-ed team.

Looking back, I wonder what the ‘powers that be’ were thinking.  Who was the brilliant mastermind behind co-ed teams beginning at the middle school level?  How on earth did they believe that could work?

I didn’t think about any of that at the time.  I showed up with my soccer ball, expecting at least a handful of other girls to show up with me, and I was ready to play.  I didn’t question it when, upon arrival, the coach informed me that every other girl on the team had already dropped out.  I didn’t flinch when I turned around to see a wall of middle-school boys staring at me.   I didn’t hesitate to steal the ball when the moment availed itself.

Turns out, middle school boys don’t like when middle school girls steal their balls.

I continued coming to practice and the coach continued to try his best to make me a part of the team.  I don’t know why I didn’t get that the boys simply didn’t want me there, but I didn’t.  I kept showing up and they kept trying to make me go away.  Subtlety wasn’t working, so one boy came up with a more direct approach.  I was kicking the ball down the field, lining up for a beautiful shot when along came Mike, seemingly out of nowhere.  He ran, full-force, straight at me – a boy on a mission.  We collided.  I went down, flat on my back, breath completely taken away from me.  He hovered over me for a second before muttering, “Sorry,” and then walked away.  It was only the coach who scurried out to offer me a hand and ask if I was okay.

Wow.  If that happened now to one of my own daughters….. well, this is a happiness blog.  Let’s stay focused.

I stopped playing soccer after that.  I didn’t stop loving it, but I did stop playing it.  And now I have my own kid who loves a sport just as much as I loved soccer.  She had a great day yesterday.  She finished the season with a personal best in two of her events and I smiled from ear to ear when I met her with a fresh towel.  I am so incredibly proud of her and I am so happy that I get to share this sport and this experience with her.  I do hope that she’ll continue swimming well beyond this first year, but I realize that is not my decision to make;  it’s a decision that she will have to make for herself.  I can, however, be her staunchest ally and fiercest defender.  Translation?  This New York Momma will kick ass if anyone tries to take this sport away from her.

Have a happy day everyone!


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