Back Into the Sports World Again

Well, it is with some fear and trepidation that we've stepped back into the Sports World again. The view in Sports World last spring was just so - not fun. However, we're determined to try again in the hopes of finding something more gratifying for all involved.

As a result, we're signing Jacob up for his school soccer team. Actually, it seems to be a recreational league, but made up of boys from his school. It's not an official extracurricular school team, but this suits Jacob just fine, because he is all against any activity that meets regularly (or not-so-regularly) after school. This team only practices two evenings a week, with games on Saturday until November or so.

He seems pretty gung-ho about it at this point, but this was only after we survived the first day out on the practice field. We had seen a sign posted at school about soccer sign ups being held on the field on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so we walked over there last Tuesday night. We went a few minutes early to be able to warm up, and saw a few boys gathering together at the far end of the field. As we approached, we saw that all of the boys had matching uniforms - fancy Umbro jerseys, matching balls and ball bags - and at this sight Jacob completely shut down.

"They all have a uniform already," he whispered to me.
"Well, that's probably because they played last year, and decided to wear it out tonight," I said. (In truth, this was before I saw the matching jerseys, socks, shin guards, balls, ball bags, and water bottles. If I had seen those first, I would never have tried to pull that one over on him.)
"No, I think they have already started the team," he answered.
"Hmmm," I said noncommittally.
There was a long pause here, then, "I don't want to play."

(Sigh) "Why not?"
"I just don't want to. I don't have to, do I?" When I looked at him, I could see immediately, he was already in panic mode. I asked him what he was worried about - that he would have to play with players he didn't know, or because he thought they might be better than he was? But he couldn't come up with an answer - he just did NOT want to play.

Well, about this time a coach-type figure showed up. He wasn't the U12 boys coach, but he said that the coach should be around soon.

"Okay," I said. "Those boys over there look like they're on the U12 team. We'll just wait over there."

"Oh, those boys are on the Odyssey team. That's not the school team."

Ah ha. Those were the boys from the area's premier travel team. And at that knowledge, Jacob visibly relaxed, and seemed to think he might be open to playing after all.

It turns out that the school team is made up of a whole mix of kids - kids who have played before, and kids who have not. It will be perfect for Jacob - no group of kids playing together since birth, mixed skill levels, and I think he'll be really successful. At this point, they are unfortunately on the edge of not having enough players to have a team at all, but I really hope they will. Actually, I hope they'll have just enough to make a team, but not enough to seriously reduce the playing time.

But isn't it interesting that after one season of sitting on the bench in basketball, his athletic self-confidence was essentially washed away? It's certainly enough to confirm what I was already thinking - that membership in Sports World isn't as valuable for their Move-to-Fresno-Adjustment as I thought it would be.

But that's another blog post for another day.

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