Having not been an athlete growing up (I was a cheerleader, but Ally says that doesn’t count), I’m always wowed by my daughter’s soccer skills. It’s not just that she knows what to do with a ball on the field, it’s that she actually has balls on the field. Which is to say that she’s brave. She goes out there and has to listen to trash talk, play against girls bigger and better, and not bow underneath the intense pressure of a team that’s relying on every player to do their best. Some games are such high intensity, I barely have what it takes to watch from the sidelines.
Team play is as good as any class you can take. You learn things you couldn’t learn anywhere else. And lots of them are about yourself. Ally has given up a lot to play at the high level she chooses to play at, but she lives for the rush, the camaraderie, I think maybe even the stress. Nothing I’ve ever done (except maybe watch all the seasons of Lost,which took a huge emotional toll, let’s face it) compares to the commitment that she’s given to sports. I had to learn about hard work, resilience, and tenacity elsewhere. But Ally has been practicing those skills since she was five. And she’s actually had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends while she was doing it.
As the college thing approaches (we just came back from a college showcase tournament), soccer will be a huge consideration for Ally, as she chooses where she’ll spend her four years. Soccer, which has been such a big part of her life, will now become an even bigger part of her more adult life. I marvel at her strength. I envy her love of the game. I am grateful to be able to have watched her grow up on a field. Turns out fields are really good at helping you grow up. I wish I’d known that when I was a kid.