A Mom’s Got To Do What a Mom’s Got To Do


Jane's soccer team

This was my last soccer mom weekend ever. Jane will continue to play but she won’t play at the park again because she’s planning on playing three sports in high school and you just can’t dance at two weddings. There were moments that it felt bittersweet but it’s mostly exciting that Jane’s moving on. She’s ready and I’m more than ready to have weekends back.

Friday night Jane’s friend Jill slept at the house with us. Her parents had to work so I was taking her for the weekend and with a 6am start to the day it seemed prudent. Well, the 6am start became a 6.30 start. The girls were fine but I seem to have a difficult time leaving the house gracefully. It’s who I am.

We got there in plenty of time and the girls played two games, walked around the UCSB campus and then we went to check into our hotel. My friend Brendan Wayne (yep that Wayne family) was going to stay at the same place and he had two girls with him as well and I can’t even bring myself to recount the 75 minutes we spent in the lobby of the hotel where 20 year old girls skittered and shook and explained to us that there was no hot water because of the earthquake.

Thank goodness for iphones. I happened to have a hotels.com free night available so I booked the Fess Parker and got $150 discount bringing it down to the price it actually should be. Listen, it’s a great piece of real estate but it’s still a Double Tree complete with outdated wallpaper and broken doorknobs and should be priced accordingly.

I took Jill and Jane and headed to the Fess Parker to collapse poolside. We all ordered vacation drinks (gin for me and a virgin pina colada for the girls), fruit plates and sandwiches while we waited for Brendan to show up with the other two girls. I figured they’d grab a room too or they’d join us for dinner and then drive home. What I hadn’t expected was for him to drop off two girls, not even slow the car down and then drive back to LA. Apparently he’s not afraid to jump off horses, but dinner with four teenage girls had him roaring down the 101.

That’s me, four tired and smelly girls and two queen sized beds. Okay. Cool. I can handle it.

I got three of the four girls showered and we headed out for dinner at Arch Rock Fish which was surprisingly affordable and absolutely delicious. Just don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that you can get a good lobster roll outside of New England. That thing they served us was barely passable but the cioppino was amazing.

By 10 everyone was getting into bed but Brendan’s daughter was sound asleep before the other three could stop screaming or turn the lights out. She’d just come back from a class retreat and was “very tired”. She’d also been in a head to head collision that I’d somehow missed. We’d later find out that she had both whiplash and a concussion. So scary.

The morning was easy. Getting girls dressed for soccer is no big deal, they only wear mascara. Really.

Soccer. We can put that on the list of things I’ve done. Rather successfully I’d say. And it’s over. Like, forever. Which is weird.



The Soccer Mom Culture: Turkey Tournaments


Jane played in a soccer tournament these last two days. For those of you unfamiliar with tournament play, in most children’s sports the most talented kids play post season games in and around their regions. There’s usually an A (All star) team, a B team (almost all stars), and a C team or two (kids with some potential and/or involved parents). Tournaments last one or two days, and the teams will play two to three games a day. The games are usually a few hours apart.

Families really need to devote a day to their child’s sport in order for them to participate in tournament play.

The tournament that Jane played in this weekend gave her three games on Friday (8am, 11am and 2pm), and two on Saturday (9am and 1pm). That’s a lot of soccer for Jane. Interestingly it’s even more soccer for Alexander, who is supposed to sit on the sidelines and cheer for his sister.

I love soccer. I grew up in AYSO, and I’ve watched it morph from something a few kids played in the beach cities, to an incredibly popular pastime with a level of parental involvement that I didn’t know existed.

Sometimes I worry that I’m not pushing Jane enough. She’s very fast, typically she’s the fastest kid on the field by many strides, but she isn’t interested in playing just one sport. She wants to play volleyball in the spring and not soccer all year ’round. She had a blast playing this weekend, but absolutely refuses to play on a tournament team in the springtime.

At what age do you ask a child to specialize? I’m seeing it happen younger and younger every year, and I’m not convinced that these kids are particularly gifted, or that they even care. When do you say to your child, “You’ve just got to do this.”?

How do you manage the other child? And when do we as parents just get to say, “No, I’m not hanging out in an RV at the park for two days so that you can play soccer.”?

Maybe there’s some part of the soccer mom culture that just escapes me, maybe I just don’t get it, and maybe I’m too selfish to want this for my life too.

There’s only one thing I know I’m right about. Funnel cakes, Papa Johns Pizza and Kettle Corn do not belong at soccer tournaments. That part was just ridiculous.

Four Steps For Soccer Moms


Later this afternoon I’ll be taking my kids to their first soccer practice of the season. Well, maybe my kids, maybe one kid?

I’m not 100% sure who has practice and at what time. I’ll have to call the coaches (yes, someone else is coaching my kids this year) and find out who plays when. I could have avoided this, and I’d recommend to all my readers that you be the team parent, room parent or whomever does the emails.

It’s really quick and easy if you set it up right. Here are four easy steps:

1. Get a sports or school email address with google. I use gmail because as replies come in they are attached to the first message and sorting is simple. You also don’t delete with gmail, you archive so nothing is ever truly “gone”. Attachments are quick and easy (think team photos or spreadsheets) and they have a good group feature.

2. Create a private group for the entire team or class. I recommend Google Groups, Yahoo Groups or Big Tent. Remember that just because something is private, that doesn’t mean it’s secure. The moment you invite just one person to read what you’ve written it’s available to be copied and pasted anywhere. If something is too personal for the world to see, don’t write it down anywhere. If you think you will need any sort of technical support (like via phone) then Big Tent is probably the one you need, they’re small, and though they don’t have every feature that Google and Yahoo can offer, they have folks who can hold your hand when you need it.

3. Within your group create a roster and a calendar. Big Tent will probably be the most intuitive to create these documents, with google being next and yahoo last. All three are great though, and the ability to create master calendars as well as rosters should make your life easier. All three are compatible with outlook and other calendars, there should be much less paper involved with the paperwork.

4. Pre-record your phone call. A weekly phone call to check your email or your group contact list could cost you a dollar and take up no more than a few seconds of your day. Recently a friend used Calling Post to contact the soccer families, he turned hours of dialing into a three minute chore. On my end it was helpful.

I know some of this seems simple and basic, but trust me. Undoing a poorly thought out phone list and calendar will take hours. Doing it right the first time takes just a few minutes of your day.

Soccer week 4


Girls won, son didn’t play, he was punished. Severely.

Parenting sucks, it’s way easier to overlook this stuff.

My girls team is gelling, they’re hugging each other and passing and hanging out together after practice. Jane played against Bea (one of her teammates from the Spring season) and refused to stop hugging her. Uh, yeah, competitive spirit ladies?

I cannot begin to say how proud I was of Jane and and Bea. Bea rocked the field, she saved every shot on goal and punted it to heaven (gotta teach that kid to aim to a teammate and maybe not so far). Jane was the star of the field. She only had one goal this game (of three) but she had more breakaways than I could count and passed, tricked, changed direction and ball handled like Pele.

Once I coach a kid, they’re mine forever. You gotta try it, it’ll take your breath away.

I Wasn’t Always a Soccer Mom: I Used to Be Soccer Girl


Before the station wagon and the sensible haircut, before the modest clothing and industrial strength brassieres, before nightclubs and proposals there was soccer. Oh, let me clarify, in my childhood there was soccer.

In late August of 1975 my Mother was on the telephone with her friend and said to me, "Bill’s going to coach Jen’s soccer team this year. Would you like to try playing?" I remember the phone call, I remember that my mother was in the kitchen with the phone that had the very long cord. I remember saying yes but I don’t recall being either enthusiastic or excited.

I remember tryouts. I remember coaches with clipboards asking me to dribble the ball between cones and then shoot into the goal. I remember wondering what it meant to dribble a ball and how hard I was supposed to kick it? I remember thinking dribble was a funny word. I remember Bill was there, smiling at me the whole time. Telling me I was doing a great job.

I wasn’t. I was horrible.

There was a draft (yes a draft for five year old girls playing soccer) and there were practices once or twice a week. We had uniforms that we returned at the end of every season (good idea) and a team sponsor that picked up the cost of our sweatshirts.

Every Saturday we came out to play soccer for an hour. Eleven girls on a full sized field, running like crazy for an hour.

We never won a single game that season. Not one.

I did, however, score a goal. Sadly, I was the goalie and in my excitement to kick the ball as high and as far as I possibly could, I gave the ball a mighty toss and kicked my leg up as high in the air as possible. I felt like I was taking flight. I made contact with the ball on the very tip toe of my cleat and the ball soared backwards, over my head and smack dab into my very own goal.

It was a soul crushing moment. I don’t think anyone said anything, the parents on the sidelines were oddly silent. I heard Bill though, he was laughing. So I laughed too, and it was okay.

I continued playing AYSO for many years thereafter. Mostly I was on teams that won more than they lost. The coaches were tough, the practices were long, and many times they were after dark. There were no women coaches; we were the first group of girls who were enjoying the benefits of Title IX. We played hard, we played for an hour and there was always a score. The first and second place teams got trophies and the rest of the teams got to play soccer.

We loved our trophies, they had immense value.

During the summer months there was sand soccer. In the Springtime we busied ourselves with volleyball and impromptu scrimmages. My community lived for soccer.

When High School began I made the soccer team. You had to have a 3.0 average to play CIF soccer at that school. Guess who performed at school? Because sports matter.

As I coach my daughter’s teams, I try to remember the goals I scored on my own teams. The humiliating flubs. I fondly recall Bill’s bassoon laughter filling the fields, and the joy of winning a game in the early morning mist. I remember running laps and laughing that we were smarter than the coach, because he didn’t see us cut the corners. I find myself wistful for the scent of fresh cut grass mixed with cool ocean breezes.

When my girls don’t perform it’s not their failure, it’s mine. Because it means somewhere along the way I didn’t make them love the game. If they aren’t in it to win then I haven’t given them a team. If they are only in it to win then I’ve coached without laughter, integrity and joy.

My girls are winning this year. They are scoring goals left and right, they’re blocking shots that fly perilously close to their faces. My girls are skilled players, it’s good. They’re celebrating together. My girls are becoming a team, and when they come to be each others best friends I am truly a success as a coach.

When you see me jumping up and down on the sidelines screaming like a madwoman and WOOT-ing it up as my goalie makes the save, understand that there is purpose. When I tell the other families to get off the field, it belongs to my girls for the next hour, there is purpose. When I cheer for the other teams’ goalie and I don’t let 9 year old girls drink water until after they’ve thanked the referees, it has purpose. For a few hours each week I have nine girls.

It is my privilege. Thank you for sharing your daughters, excusing my flubs and respecting their childhood. Being soccer mom… where else could I possibly be?

Thanks Bill.