Back in May Claire tried out for club soccer.  
To be honest, Dave and I had tried just a tad to veer her away from it.  There are SO many sports she still wants to try, and club soccer has pretty much taken over her life.  So we thought it might be a good year to branch out before honing in whole-heartedly into that sport.
But Claire was determined that she adored soccer so much she couldn’t live without it.  
So she and her cute soccer friends had one more season game…
…and then had try-outs for next year.
There were three different days of tryouts and I love that Claire asked to have a little huddle and to say a prayer together before the first one.

This has been our first year of club soccer and I didn’t know this before, but I guess club teams generally move up together.  They have that cohesion with the coach and the players so they all move up together for a few years and keep that unity.  Claire has grown quite attached to her coach who is from Ghana and who is TOUGH on these kids but full of love for them too.

Claire felt pretty confident coming out of try-outs as the coach gave a big schpeal about how great everyone did and he’d let them know as soon as possible.
But by that afternoon that confident girl of mine was in tears.  She and all those little soccer players on her team had a group text and one by one each one of them posted that they made it, complete with exclamation marks and smiley faces.
Claire waited.
And waited.
And waited some more, but no word from the coach.

Everyone else had heard back.

I told her to give it one more hour, but still no word.  So I called up that man on the phone and he spilled out the bad news:  she did not make it.
It’s so interesting how a mother can feel her child’s sorrow through her own heart before her child even knows what is happening.  But that afternoon, in my bedroom with sun streaming through the windows my heart broke in two for that daughter of mine.  

Every single other player made it except for Claire.

My heart broke even more because this same thing had happened with cheer earlier in the year (which I wrote about back HERE).  
At first my emotions got in the way and I pictured myself grabbing that coach by the collar and giving him a piece of my mind as I explained that you just don’t do that to one team member!  Did he even have any idea what that meant to her? (of course he did, and of course he had to make the best decisions for the team, but at that moment my mama-bear instincts came out strong!)

But my rational side kicked in (luckily) and I sat calmly and let him explain that since Claire is an ’04 player (born in 2004) who “played up” for the ’03 team this last year, he felt it would be a great fit for Claire to be one of the bigger players on the ’04 team (although the three other ’04 players made it back on the ’03 team).  He felt that she could be a leader there, and that the top ’04 team wanted her, and that he’d for sure keep an eye on her for next year.
At least that’s what I recollect him saying after I put the pieces back together later.  It actually sounded quite a bit like that adult voice in those Charlie Brown cartoons that just sounds like a bunch of jibberish… “wah WHA, wha wha, wah WHA” because in my mind I was trying to figure out how to break the news to Claire.  She was going to be devastated.  And I was sure this was the end of soccer.  Claire was in this not only because she loves the sport, but she’s a social creature and she loves her friends on that team.  She loves the coach (yes the one I wanted to give a piece of my mind).  She loves the carpool and the tournaments and the camaraderie of her teammates.  That’s a big part of the soccer package.
I came out of my bedroom trying to act all nonchalant.  We’d have to talk about it later, Claire’s friends were over and they were deep into a slime-making afternoon.  But Claire immediately grabbed my phone to check to see if the coach had called and looked at me with the saddest eyes.  So I took her back to her room and let her in on the news.

It was sadder than sad.

We sat and hugged and talked through her options.  Of course, Dave and I really had kind of hoped that if this happened (which we really knew was a possibility…she’s small and hasn’t hit any type of maturation like all the other girls have), we would just encourage her into the other sports she wanted to try and it would be all hunky-dorey.  But through the whole try-out process we had realized how much she wanted this, so it made it extra sad for all of us.

I got a call from the ’04 team coach who was so nice and let us know that he wanted Claire on that team.  He went through the list of girls and I didn’t recognize a single name.  
Neither did Claire.
I know this sounds dramatic, it’s only soccer after all.  And yes, she made a team.  A good one.  But there was just something about that elite team she had been a part of and all the friends on it that made it such a blow to that girl of mine.  I woke up in the middle of the night that night and also the night after unable to sleep, worry jumbled up in my mind about that girl of mine.  
And my heart broke all over again.  About cheer, which has turned out, just as we thought, to be much better that she didn’t make it for many reasons.  But did she really get that?  And about soccer.  Would it be better in the long-run?  Could she make it better?  Was it a great chance to spread her wings into other things?
That next night when Claire got home from something-or-other she sat on the couch with me and we had a conversation I don’t want to ever forget.  Not the words, because I already can’t remember those.  But the feelings.  She told me she was going to accept the other team.  That she loved soccer enough that she didn’t care who she knew, or even which team she was on (I had made some calls and found out the ’04 coach was really great, so that was a plus), she just wanted to play.
So she marched onto that field that next day, head held high, and joined that group of girls she didn’t know with a smile on her face, and got to work.
As I walked away I thought my heart might burst.
Lately my family has been enamored with some journal entries from my Grandma (my mom’s mom), who had some serious grit.  She lived on a farm and worked her tail off with her family and she was an amazing woman.  She overcame a lot of obstacles in life which helped her gain all that grit, and become the strong woman she was.  One paragraph that stuck out to all of us was this:
“But when you master the seemingly impossible, it does something for you that fits into your very character for a lifetime, and makes the next impossible thing seem that much easier.”
I like to think of that last seemingly impossible thing (at least in a young teenager’s mind) for that girl of mine (not making cheer and shining anyway), certainly was making this next “impossible” thing that much easier.  She wasn’t afraid.  There was something in her that made her realize it would all be ok. Maybe the seed of that grit my Grandma had running through her veins.
And I’m so excited to watch her shine this next year on that soccer field.  Oh the people she’ll meet and the places she’ll go!  And the things she will learn from this whole deal are going to be pretty awesome.  
It’s going to all work out for that sparkly young teenager of mine who has the whole wide world ahead of her.


  1. I totally understand her sorrow! We had a similar club soccer experience, but my son's team broke up completely! We had to go tryouts for each of the big 4 teams in our area, and then all of the boys ended up splitting between three of them. My son had the option of playing with two '06 teams, but we ultimately decided that sticking with his birth year was best, and he ended up with two good friends from school on that team with him. But making these kinds of decisions and having to break it to your kids is agonizing. Is it a huge thing for the entirety of their lives? No. But for those few days, I was sick to my stomach and sad!

  2. This post meant a lot to me. Sometimes it seems that some people have it easier than others, and then comes the realization that each person has their trials and tribulations, and that they are just enough in His infinite wisdom.

  3. I love your honesty here. I have two athletes of my own. One who achieves at an extremely high level and one who loves the social aspects. Ironically the super athlete struggles with the social aspect due to being much younger than the teammates and the other thriving with the teammates but not the skill. Is it possible that we hurt worse than they do in these scenarios? I have watched them bounce back while I still fret. Always praying for these kiddos. Mothering is beautifully painful and joyful. Jesus, please mind our gaps!

  4. I love your honesty here. I have two athletes of my own. One who achieves at an extremely high level and one who loves the social aspects. Ironically the super athlete struggles with the social aspect due to being much younger than the teammates and the other thriving with the teammates but not the skill. Is it possible that we hurt worse than they do in these scenarios? I have watched them bounce back while I still fret. Always praying for these kiddos. Mothering is beautifully painful and joyful. Jesus, please mind our gaps!

  5. I don't understand the notion that in order to do an activity you must do it with people you already know. I'm glad she figured it out.

    1. You don't understand the notion that a kid wants to be on a team with friends and it hurts when you know that your entire team is playing together and you aren't? That means a lot to a 13 year old, because they tend to feel left out of their old social circle. And they worry about making new friends. My daughter is "moving up" in softball and is worried because she loves playing with the same girls and they have good communication and solid friendships. She is nervous about what awaits her in the fall.

    2. This isn't her only social circle. She should have at least three different circles. She is in school for 30 hours a week and church activities for 4 hours a week. Then there is her network of family. It's hours a week for months of the year. It's an opportunity to meet and even greater number of kids. If she had tried another sport, which is also what they do in middle school, she would have seen another group of kids she might not have met. Parents tend to start these cliques for their kids starting in preschool. Then they use the mom network to sign the kids for activities hoping their 6 year old does dance or camp with their buddy and it continues as they get older. It's not on purpose but then the kid in a teenager and hasn't needed to make a friend in any new setting since they were 4. I used to organize a babysitting class at the library for kids this age. The parent's would be upset if their kid didn't work into the same class as a friend they knew. I think the kids would be fine, it's the parents who were a little crazy assuming the kids couldn't handle it. It's 5 hours long. I think they can be in a room with other kids who also might not know anyone else for 5 hours. Claire seems to have correctly figured out that she would be fine. I think she has a better handle on it than most adults.

    3. kms, when a team is able to stay together, they play better. They are more competitive. This is true for baseball, which we're heavily involved in and other team sports as well. The players learn each other and that's why it matters; not only because you "know" the people already.

    4. I think the bigger deal to Claire was the "elite" feeling of her other team and being cut out of it. And the social part is all part of that as well. But I think I was the one more worried about the friends who play because to be honest, I need carpools! But it's all going to work out just fine, and I appreciate the fact that Claire is going for it and learning so much from these new girls. They had their first tournament on Saturday (in 113 weather at 6:00 in the evening…nuts!), and that girl was just glowing with all those new people she has met. I can already feel the grit working it's way into her system and I love it. She's spreading a little of that to me as well 🙂

  6. I admire your honesty and willingness to post the trials of your family, as well as the celebratory moments. My heart aches for Claire, but simultaneously, I am so proud of her bravery and willingness to continue in soccer for the love of the game. Hopefully soon, she will look back at this time, and see the lessons learned, her personal growth and the new friendships gained. I also have five children, with varying degrees of athleticism and interests. (My 16 yr old daughter, Emma Claire, is playing her 8th year of comp. soccer…I understand 100% where you're coming from). There have been numerous growing experiences and life lessons to be learned from being on a team. I look forward to many blog entries and pictures of Claire on the soccer field. Way to go Claire! You're a champ!

  7. Oh my heart broke reading this. First cheer and then soccer that would make a serious blow to self confidence and self esteem. This happened to me once, all of my friends got re-selected into dance professional category and I didn't. Broke my heart and I was so angry and upset I quit all together and I still regret it and look back and wish I was more mature to see the bigger picture. I'm am in awe of Claire and her ability to rise up, she should be very proud of herself! These are the attributes that will see her go far in life. Please keep us updated about the new team, I hope it is all going okay and they are bonding! (Props to you for not actually grabbing the coach by the collar, boy howdy I would have been mad as her mum! The only player, come on!)

  8. Learning that you can do hard things, especially at a young age, will help her throughout her life. Good on you Momma for helping her see that and work through the heartache. I get wanting to swoop in help make things better. But helping her work through it herself is the best thing ever. It makes me think of our Heavenly Father and Mother. How hard it must be to watch their children go through this life and hope that they remember what they are taught and know that they can get through hard things with their help. Your Clair sounds amazing. What courage at an age that these types of things are everything to a child, that she chose to rise up and to something hard. And a child shall lead them….

  9. As much as I was emotionally invested in the story about Claire, it was the quote from your grandmother that touched me. Living in southwest Idaho myself and growing up on a homestead I know the grit your grandmother had to have to survive during those times on a farm. Oh, how I wish I had family journals to read and to inspire! Such a beautiful and wonderful treasure to have!
    Jamie Noto

  10. Oh I have been in Claire's shoes before! Everything works out like it's supposed to- in my case the girls on my new team became some of my best friends. Good luck and be strong! 🙂

  11. Oh, Shawni – my heart aches for you both right now!

    This post just brought me back to 2008 – same scenario, same emotions, same mother bear instincts!

    "It's so interesting how a mother can feel her child's sorrow through her own heart." So true!

    My daughter played competitive soccer from the time she was 8 until she graduated high school. I know EXACTLY how you felt because the same thing happened to my daughter except the coach let 3 girls go. The sleepless nights, the worry, the frustration, the tears – all of it!

    Competitive/Club soccer is in a world of it's own and unless your child has played in it – you don't/can't really understand what it's like. My daughter played comp for 8 years and it definitely had it's highs and lows. I do believe being let go from that team back in 2008 motivated her and helped her to eventually make it to the highest level in competitive soccer in our area – (ECNL).

    I just want to say that I love Clarie!!! She is amazing! I obviously don't know her, but I feel like I do from reading your blog. Her ability to rise above and stay positive during these challenging situations (cheer & soccer especially) is so impressive! She is a special girl and her spirit shines so bright. She is destined for something great!

    Major props to you also – you have trained your "mother bear" very well!

  12. We just did soccer tryouts as well from my son. My husband had coached a competitive team for a few years and finally said he needed a break, so for the first time he had to really tryout. It was so nerve racking and also hoping you find a great coach in all of it. My son was born 06, but his birthday is in December so he is the baby of his age group.
    He tried out for 2 different clubs because I was more worried about a good coach than anything else. One club he made their most elite team but at tryout the coach told them never to expect to hear a compliment from him because he doesn't do that ever! He will only help correct things that are wrong and doesn't praise the good. My son came over said mom I am their top pick but I don't want to play for him.
    The next club had a great coach they could make 2 teams in his age if everyone accepted to play for them. Well out of all the kids who tried out only 5 accepted for the team my son was placed on. The gave us a choice to play up a year with the 05 team, or we had to scramble for another club. We talked to our son and said it was his choice, and he looked up his could be new coach talked about the other clubs we could look at but since tryouts were over it could be hard.
    He thought about it and said I want to try and play up, he said either way I don't know anyone on the team. I like the coach and sounds like I am going to have to try harder than I ever have before, which will make me better.
    Now I am so nervous having him play up an age because he is 10 and playing on a U13 team. He doesn't turn 11 till December seriously the baby of his real age group.
    Claire will be such a good leader for her new team since she has already played at that age group, so not only will she thrive she will get to experience being not the smaller one, and a little more experienced. I know she will also be able to help other players one her team. It will be a great new role for her!
    I am hoping my son next year can go back and play for his age group, because I know how hard it is for the younger one to thrive.
    That is me being the coaches wife for years and doing all the team management and knowing the kids ages sometimes you could really tell.
    ok that comment was really long haha..

  13. Oh this made me so sad 🙁 It's crazy how everything happens for a reason though and when we are close to the spirit, the Lord will not steer us wrong. Maybe there is a girl (or a few) on that new team who specifically need Claire or vice versa. Sometimes when we have gleaned all we can from one situation, a new one can give us things that help us grow and serve even more.

  14. I've never commented before but have long been inspired by you as a parent, wife and person. This post really stood out to me as I am a children's theatre director and often have to make choices that are really tough for certain kids and parents. I so admire that you are able to recognize the position the coach was in and give him the benefit of the doubt. I am also a mother so I know how hard it can be when your instinct is to get angry with him for making your child feel so terrible. It is so obvious that Claire is a talented, strong and resilient kid and this will take her so far in life. She is SO lucky to have such amazing parents and role models. I only hope I can raise my two little boys to respond to similar difficult situations with such grace.

  15. I really love that quote by your great grand….A friend and I recently ran an half marathon and who would have thought we'd ever do that, right???? But we both did (but not together, different cities) and we are so proud and bouyed up by it and ready to see what is impossible next and take it on.
    Thanks for sharing.

  16. The same thing happened to my daughter. She was one of the only girls that didn't make the select team and it devastated us. We played with those girls and hung out with those families for 3 years. It was such a hard summer but my daughter also loves soccer and was placed on a new team where she didn't know anyone. But she played soccer and became a leader. She was just named MVP of this team and felt confident going into tryouts again this year. We find out on Sunday if she made the select team. We're hoping that the experience she gained this past year ( playing new positions for her) will make a difference.

  17. I knew all this but seeing the details so beautifully written made me cry all over again. Not so much because of the devastation but so much because of the triumph of both of your great souls!

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