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…
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.
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.