My daughter’s high school soccer season ended yesterday. It was a sunny day that turned into a cold evening. After the game, we huddled together, shivering and had hot chocolate and cupcakes. The underclassmen had decorated the entrance with balloons and posters for the graduating seniors. I won’t bore you with scores and and wins and losses. I will say that the girl’s record did not reflect their talent, or their heart. And that, I will elaborate on.
I didn’t play a team sport in high school. I don’t think we had a soccer team back in the early 1800’s. In fact, I didn’t do anything competitively, except diet. I ran, I biked, I was a cheerleader for a few years (GO WILDCATS!), I took exercise classes at an early version of a women’s gym, and had a little dalliance with tennis. So, I am not only proud of watching my daughter play soccer, I’m fascinated. I have no idea what being on an athletic team would have been like for me. But I imagine it would have changed me in ways I will never know.
Ally is a great athlete. She is physically strong and mentally tough and has the never-give-up attitude you need to win. I have been sitting on soccer fields watching her play since she was five. She is on one of the best club teams in Massachusetts. She has devoted a lot of her time to soccer. Not because we force her to, but because she loves it.
What I love is witnessing all the camaraderie a team sport fosters for girls. While our team didn’t exactly have a winning season, they did offer the kind of support to each other that you need when you’re not winning. They spurred each other on, and helped one another through everything from physical injuries to bruised egos. Mean girls? Not in soccer. Is this the antidote to girls being pitted against one another?
A four game suspension for seven girls (a pre-season party, and a Facebook photo, and a call from a parent I WOULD LIKE TO TALK TO) started the season off with a whimper, not a bang. But through the twists and turns and pivots of a difficult season, every girl on that team left it on the field during every game. Every girl supported every other girl at practice, at team dinners, in texts, and on bus rides. And to me, that’s what seems really important at the end of the day (or game). For girls to feel strong, and be stronger because of one another.