Ready to play?

I am the first to confess, I was never a star athlete. I played sports because that’s what teenage girls growing up in the suburbs do. In high school, I ran cross country and track, played soccer and did gymnastics. Cross country practice was my favorite because we’d run to new home models nearby and hang out in the air conditioning, eat their cookies and drink free sodas. My friends all played soccer, so I did it too, mostly to socialize. As for gymnastics, I’m 5′ 7.” Not really surprising that I wasn’t a state champ in any of these sports!

Chase, on the other hand, was a collegiate athlete. He played baseball his whole life and worked in Major League Baseball for 10 years after college. To say he likes sports or is competitive, would be an understatement.

We’re on week three of soccer for Clay, and Chase is a bit perplexed by his lack of aggressiveness. Clay likes the social aspect of soccer and is not slow or out-of-shape, but going after the ball is not natural to him. He’s been told his entire life to not take things from people or to run into them, now we’re telling him this is okay. He’s cautious and a thinker.

I’m not sure why it just hit me today: Clay is me! I remember my first soccer season. I was scared to kick the ball, worried it would go in the wrong direction or into the other goal. I ran with my arms close to my sides so I wouldn’t accidentally touch the ball with my hands. It was chilly and rainy for every game, and we had green uniforms (not a nice green, but a gross grass-green). I finished out the season because my parents made me, but I didn’t play again for five years. And even then, it was just to hang out with my friends.

I got a babycenter.com e-newsletter yesterday, with an article saying kids should wait until they are five or six to play team sports. I wish they’d sent that in the spring, rather than now, when we’re already committed! I’m not sure it would have mattered since Clay wanted to play, but after reading it and seeing Clay’s experience, I think we’ll hold off on organized sports for Avery until she’s in kindergarten.

Clay is getting better at soccer each week. Maybe by the end of the season he’ll even score a goal and be excited for something other than the snacks. If not, he’ll go back to hitting baseballs and golf balls with his dad for a few years. Soccer is good exercise and learning team work is great, but it’s nice to just have fun without the pressure or commitment of a team. When he’s ready to play again, he will.

If soccer isn’t his thing, that’s okay too. We all know Chase would be thrilled to have a ball player, and I’d be happy to tour the world’s best resorts with my PGA golfer son.

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