My intention for 2011 is to be "Fifty and Fabulous." This month my journaling reads: "In February, I was fabulous because I helped build a soccer program . . . and that made my community stronger." Here's the rest of the story-
My son loves soccer, and I love my son. So, I learned all about off-sides and drove him to practices and watched his games. Last year, he started playing high school soccer. He was one of only two freshman who went out for the sport. Some of his frosh-soph teammates got kicked off for poor grades, some got injured, and some chose to go play for their Club team instead of the school. So, they finished the season with just nine players on the roster - in a sport where there's supposed to be eleven players on the field. Last year's Varsity team fared just a bit better - limping into season's end with just ten players. But my son really loves soccer and really wanted to play. So, at the start of this year I asked myself, "How do I help build a soccer program?"
I worked with the coaches to have the boys get together in the fall and start thinking of themselves as a team even before the season started. We held a variety of fundraisers, including a soccer clinic hosted by the local professional soccer team (the San Jose Earthquakes). For each hour worked, the boys earned a $4 credit toward a team jacket that had their name on the back. The jackets weren't required, and the boys could buy one for $40 or any combination of cash/team service credit hours. In the end, almost every boy got a jacket, and most of them earned them by putting in team service hours. And they wore them with pride. By the time the season rolled around, we had 18 kids on each team. We lost one from each team due to grades, but both teams finished strong. We brought out the fans, too, hosting a youth soccer night for the local club teams (including a former professional soccer player who came out to announce the game) and the first ever Senior Honors Game. Before the beginning of our last game of the season, we introduced each of the Seniors, they hugged their families (who we had assembled on field), gave their mom flowers, and received a nice 8x10 action photograph from the season. It was an awesome experience for them.
As you know, they had a very successful season on the field, too. (League Champions, in case you don't remember). But the best thing was how they came together as a team and how they all grew as young men . . . how they held themselves tall and how it became cool to be on the soccer team. It was about the smiles and comraderie as they walked around together. Winning definitely helped, but, in the end, I think it was all about the jackets. . .