Real Women’s Soccer

Soccer1The only thing my husband wanted for Father’s Day was my participation in the first annual, mother-daughter end-of-season soccer game. It was our first and only free Sunday in June, and the last thing I wanted to do.

But by Sunday, I felt guilty about the complaining I’d done all week and decided to embrace the event.  Between Lee and Tucker’s closets I pulled together an outfit; Tuck’s Irish soccer jersey (too tight), Lee’s white socks with green stripes (too long), Lee’s soccer shorts and shin pads (too big) and Tuck’s still-too-big-for-him, hand-me-down cleats (just right).

I was filling a water bottle at the kitchen sink, when Andie came in.  I waited for her to laugh.  Instead she said, “Mom, you look AWESOME!” and gave me a big hug.  When Lee and Tuck came in, their faces broke out in huge, happy smiles, and I decided to leave my back-up clothes at home.

When we pulled into to the parking lot I saw other moms out on the field.  They were all in loose yoga pants, sweatpants, cute tank tops, too big t-shirts and sneakers!  I willed those extra clothes I’d left back at home to magically appear in my car.  I scoured the back seat, turning over notebooks, torn magazines, snow scrapers, water bottles, dog leashes and crushed up chips in the hopes of miraculously finding a stray shirt or pair of pants.  Nothing.

I stared out the front windshield and Lee motioned Come on from the field.  Slowly I opened the car door and stepped out.  I wobbled and nearly fell over as the cleats found their footing on the gravel parking lot.  Pulling my baseball cap low over my eyes, I made myself walk forward.  When I reached the field, Lee threw his arm around my shoulder and whispered, “You look great,” in my ear.  I looked up to make some snarky reply, and there before my eyes was Louise, another team mom, and she was wearing tall orange socks and cleats!  When I lifted my cap for a better look, I saw several other moms wearing a hodgepodge of their kid’s/husband’s soccer clothes, too!

As the 9 and 10-year-old girls easily lined up in their field positions, we moms milled about, trying to decide who would play where.  The only mom with a bit of experience was quickly elected captain.  “Who’s up for playing up front – doing a lot of running?” she asked.  I’d been walking a bit lately to tone up, so I raised my hand.  So did Louise and one other mom.  The other moms found places on the field and the game began.

Within the first 5 minutes, my legs and throat were burning, but we surprisingly held our own.  Louise even managed to score a goal, tying the game at one all.

When the ref (my husband) announced next goal wins, the girls came on hard, shooting again and again at the goal, where our only experienced player and captain, repeatedly blocked their shots.  After one save, she punted the ball hard and it landed right over my head, bouncing toward the girl’s goal.  I turned to follow the ball and saw that I had a clear break away.

I forced my exhausted legs to run and saw that the only thing standing between me and a game-winning goal,  was that cute little goalie bouncing on the front of her toes.  I pulled my right foot back, ready to shoot and bring it home for moms.  My foot released, sailing forward, yet just before my cleat met the ball, a bright yellow cleat, toe pointing straight up, slid in and knocked the ball out of bounds.  I fell back toward the ground, glimpsing a long blond ponytail and Andie’s face looking down at me with an enormous smile on her face.

The girls scored right after that and went on to win the game.  But that’s ok, because now I’m inspired.  Throughout my daily walks, I pick a mailbox, a tree or a street sign about 50 yards away and sprint as fast as I can, all the while imagining a soccer ball, a goal and my daughter trying (unsuccessfully!) to catch me.

Whoops, Silly me!  Wrong Picture!

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Here it is!

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Go U.S. Women!!

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