Hunter plays club soccer year-round so it’s weird to even say “end of season” but we’ve reached the end of the season! We finished up a tournament this weekend and with that, the season is officially over…until tryouts in one week!
These kids end up spending a lot of time together – it’s a good thing they’ve grown to love each other. Each year the team looks a little different as kids come and go and every year its a learning curve to learn how to work together. But he’s made some great friends and he loves where he’s at.
I love where he’s at. Any competitive sport is time consuming and soccer is no different. He spends three weeknights at practice and has games on the weekend. Steve and I have both questioned at different times whether this is worth it. It takes so much out of us and him. And for many it may not be worth it, but for him, the answer is yes.
I like that he’s a busy teenager. Between studies and sports, he doesn’t have a lot of idle time – which I’m a huge fan of. He’s had to prioritize and really manage his time during the week. He’s had to tell friends he’s not available on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon to hang out – which is always tough. He’s had to sacrifice activities and events that he wanted to participate in. And in his free time he’s worked really hard to better his skills and be the best player he can be.
And I think that’s been good for him – he has greatly benefited in all aspects of his life to being dedicated to the sport.
And this year he saw more growth in his ability than ever before. It’s been fun to watch him and if I’m being honest, I always get a little sad when the games end for the season. I love spending Saturdays at the fields.
The more Hunter plays soccer, the more I recognize our team is not nearly as physical as the teams we are playing. Not only that – what little force we do bring is often called as a foul. Other teams tend to get away with a lot more which means they’ve been taught something that we haven’t learned yet!
I caught this series of photos over the weekend.
Even before the other team is close to the ball, he had his arm and shoulder ready for impact.
And try as Hunter might – he couldn’t withstand the push – even though he was able to get his outer foot on the ball…
Before being toppled to the ground…
And no call.
We’ve clearly got some work to do – how to be physical without gaining the attention of the referee – it really is an art!
Hunter was at tennis practice when his coached asked when his soccer season was going to end, so he could start participating in tennis tournaments on Saturday mornings. I informed the coach that soccer was a year round sport and we would just need to fit the tournaments in when we could.
He replied that he’s familiar with year-round sports because tennis is the same way, there’s never an off-season. I reminded him we’re very familiar with year-round tennis because Hallie never has an off-season. She moves from school tennis. To sweat-it-out-in-the-heat-of-summer tennis. To take-a-vacation-in-Idaho-and-enjoy-the weather-there tennis. To beautiful-Utah-summer tennis camp. To fall-clinic-and-prep-for-the-school-season tennis. She just cycles through all the seasons.
She’s had a couple tournaments recently in preparation for school try-outs and I love to watch her play. It’s equally fun to watch her dad cheer her on and support her. Its going to be a fun season, I can feel it!
I have tried for years to get Hunter to love basketball. He’s played a few seasons of rec ball with his friends, but he’s never been one to go outside to shoot some hoops, despite my best efforts and despite his natural ability. So I was a little surprised at the beginning of the school year when he said he was going to try-out for the school team, considering he hadn’t picked up a ball for two years (since the last rec season he played).
In all reality, I didn’t think it was a good idea with his already busy schedule: Junior high with all honors classed and trying to figure out how to manage that load, on top of multiple days of soccer and tennis once a week. I shared my concerns with Hunter and Steve made it pretty clear that he wouldn’t make the team because there were boys that have been working hard to make this team.
He didn’t even have basketball shoes – but wouldn’t you know it, Hallie’s shoes from last year fit him like a glove. As he was rushing out the door to his first day of try-outs, I told him to take her shoes and she was a little bugged because they were her shoes. I reminded her that she made the decision to not wear them again and as such it would be great if she would pass them on to Hunter. She reluctantly agreed.
Steve told me not to worry – he wouldn’t be making the team. After the first day of tryouts, Hunter came home and told us that there were over 60 kids trying out and he was pretty sure he’d make the team. Steve chuckled at his naivety. The next day after tryouts, they cut it down to 30 and Hunter was still there. My concern started to grow as I couldn’t fathom managing a schedule as busy as he was going to be.
The last day I picked him up, he was beaming when he told me he made the team and there was a small pit in my stomach. I admired his drive, athleticism and confidence but I was a little bugged that Steve thought it was a good idea for him to try-out to teach him a lesson in humility and it backfired.
Although it started on shaky ground, I’m happy to report he had a great, successful season. Just as I suspected, it was a rough go with managing his school work on top of being gone every night of the week. There were moments of frustration when he realized there were just weren’t enough hours in the day. He learned to be efficient in his school work, taking advantage of each opportunity of free time at school. He had to give up time with friends.
Just a week into the season, I picked him up from practice and he casually stated that he was going to go hang out with friends. He had a small window of time in between activities and he was going to fill it with friends. I had to remind him that he had scheduled himself to the point of not having time for friends – he needed to go home and work on school before having to leave again. As you can imagine that went over real well (Originally, he thought he would be playing basketball with all his friends, but unfortunately, most of them didn’t make the team.)
Luckily, he found his groove. He focused on his school work, carved out time for multiple sports and then spent weekend nights with friends when he could. Not to mention he was fun to watch. He’s a fast player and was quick to intercept the ball or make a steal and race down the court. Both Steve and I were a little disappointed at the end when he stated he still didn’t love the sport (We thought it might light a fire within him. We figured given his natural ability, with some effort he could be great – but it turns out he doesn’t love it. It also doesn’t help that in high school, basketball and soccer are the same season and he’s already made it clear he loves soccer.) It was a great learning experience for him. I feel a little guilty that I almost pushed him away from it. He learned real quick how to manage a heavy load and he did it better than expected.
Just when we thought Hallie’s shoes had been retired, they saw another life!
Bennett looks up to his older brother so much, so when he sees Hunter playing soccer, he too wants to play soccer. By some miracle, it worked out that Hunter’s coach happened to be coaching Bennett’s year as well. Although Bennett hadn’t played before, we decided to commit a little more time and money than we were originally anticipating and we had Bennet join the same club as Hunter at the lower academy level.
He learned so much and we saw so much growth in him. In the beginning, there were several players on his team that could run circles around most the team and I could see Bennett was intimidated by their skills. But he kept working at it. He ran two miles 2-3 times a week around the neighborhood and he worked on his footwork in the backyard. He knew he had some work to do to catch up and if there is one thing that Bennett doesn’t lack, it’s dedication.
He still has some work to do in the aggression department – soccer is not a timid sport and Bennett is still working on that aspect. It’s not natural for him to fight for the ball so he’s slowly learning Hunter’s “Beast Mode” mentality – we’ll see if it’s something that clicks.
He loved his team. He loved going to practice two days a week for the entire year. He loved belonging to something. He never complained or asked not to go. He was dedicated. He’s committed to another year so I hope next year is as good as this one.