Monday, July 14, 2008

Awkward Silence

So, I returned early from scrapbooking in Texas yesterday in order to attend the mandatory parents meeting with Kellen’s new soccer coach. The boys played in a 3v3 tournament on Saturday, while I was in Texas, and it liked to have killed me to miss it. However, sometimes in life, the need for weekends filled with chocolate and amaretto (although ironically, we forgot to drink the amaretto) and girlfriends is equally important to the need to be a good parent. Kellen was in perfectly capable hands with Blaine, so I relaxed about missing his first tournament (and him scoring his first goal in his first tournament, which I also missed, excuse me while the guilt creeps in again) but I didn’t want to miss the meeting as well, so I returned.

And discovered, the world of competitive soccer is a new one for us, indeed. Now, I realize they are only ten year old boys, and not a college team, or World Cup team, on the level of David Beckham, or whatever. It’s just ….. so much more intense than what we’re used to.

First the coach was talking about practices a minimum of twice a week and make up practices on weekends if need be and tournaments once a month the first three months, at least one of which will be out of state, so he’ll be getting hotel information to us, in addition to the regular games. And then how in the winter we’ll not only play indoor soccer but try to find an indoor practice field to play footsal or futsol or whatever the heck it is called, and how the dead ball really helps. And how we’ll “take down the walls” so the boys don’t get lazy. And how on the days they don’t have practice they’ll have conditioning exercises to do at home. And I looked around, and the other parents were nodding in agreement, and all I could think was, “What the heck is futsal???” Then he started talking about divisions and classes and different leagues and trading players and OPL and Rush teams, and how much our practice uniforms will be, and again, the other parents were interjecting intelligent comments and questions, and I’m all like, “Wait. Practice uniforms??? We have to buy practice uniforms??” Why yes, we do. A light and a dark, with their numbers on them in case they ever need to double as game uniforms. And let's not forget the game uniform, which by the way, cost more than my wedding dress. (I am not even kidding. I bought my wedding dress off an “As Is” rack at JC Penney and my 10-yr old son’s uniform, socks, cleats, and matching equipment bag cost more.)

Then the coach passed out the list of costs for this season … league fees and field maintenance fees and lights fees and coaching fees and trainer fees (let’s not confuse the two) and tournament fees and per diem fees and OPL fees (again, this mention of OPL … what the heck is it??) and talking about the fundraisers we will do to help offset costs. And of course the team treasurer will have all the player accounts in spreadsheet form to pass out monthly so everyone is totally accountable, but they will need a credit card on file for monthly fees and hotel reservations for the tournaments.

And seriously, my head is spinning. I’m thinking hopefully Kellen will become really, really, really good in soccer and get a college scholarship, because at this rate, we’ll have spent his entire college savings in fees.

And once more, the other parents are all asking intelligent questions about this and that, and acting as if they are completely familiar with everything that is being discussed, and they all seem to know the difference between various field sizes and league rules and playing time regulations, and they’re all talking about “remember that great Academy team we had last year?” and “How come Johnny wasn’t at tryouts? He’s the best keeper in the league” and blah blah blah. I felt so much like an outsider, and I so desperately wanted to make friends and let everyone know we’re committed and excited, just like them, even if I AM totally ignorant about what is being discussed. So I raised my hand, and offered, in my best, “I’m totally a team player” voice …. “I’ll be willing to bring snacks for that first tournament, or even get the snack list organized, if you need someone to do it.”

Awkward silence.

Then the coached smiled at me, in a “that’s nice, but you have no clue” sort of way, and said, “Well, thanks, but we don’t *do* snacks at this level. And if your kid forgets his water bottle, he doesn’t drink, either.” Then he turned to the rest of the group and said, “And this should be clear, but I’ll repeat it just in case …. I don’t want to see ANY of you carrying your kids’ equipment bag. It’s THEIR responsibility.”

And all I could think was, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

So I made some self-deprecating, trying-to-cover-my-embarrassment-that-I-obviously-still-treat-my-son-like-a-baby comment, about how I’m a stay-at-home mom and apparently have way too much time on my hands if I’m worried about snack.

So with all my free time, they made me team treasurer.

Geez. (roll-y eyes)


Anonymous said...

Oh man, that just sounds like a bunch of parents that think their kids will go on to be pros. Not much fun at all. :(

I hope I am wrong and Kellen likes it. Why can't kids play for fun? With 4 kids, mine will have no choice BUT to play for fun, as I have no time/money to wrap myself around 1 kid's sport so completely.

I know what it feels like to be the new kid in town. We just moved from VA to Kansas last week. Yep, one week ago. And this Toto isn't in Va anymore. Know smiling welcome faces of anyone I know anywhere I go. I feel like an invisble ghost wandering though town, no one knows me or even seems to see me. Thank God for email and free Verizon phone to phone long distance. I am burning the wires up talking to old friends. If I can't see a friendly face, at least I can hear a friendly voice!


Anonymous said...

Oh man, that just sounds like a bunch of parents that think their kids will go on to be pros. Not much fun at all. :(

I hope I am wrong and Kellen likes it. Why can't kids play for fun? With 4 kids, mine will have no choice BUT to play for fun, as I have no time/money to wrap myself around 1 kid's sport so completely.

I know what it feels like to be the new kid in town. We just moved from VA to Kansas last week. Yep, one week ago. And this Toto isn't in Va anymore. No smiling, welcoming faces of anyone I know anywhere I go. I feel like an invisble ghost wandering though town, no one knows me or even seems to see me. Thank God for email and free Verizon phone to phone long distance. I am burning the wires up talking to old friends. If I can't see a friendly face, at least I can hear a friendly voice!


Denise Tidwell said...

Yep, welcome to competitive soccer! It's ODP by the way "Olympic Development Program". But don't worry, you'll get the hang of things. It does get very expensive though. Ty and I have said the same thing. By the time Haley gets that soccer scholarship, we could have paid for her college education in cash!!Have fun!

Cindi said...

Just a tad too "over the top" for me. How bad does Kellen want to play soccer??

And by ending up being the team treasurer, does that mean that YOU will be in charge of those spreadsheets that will be passed out to the parents each month?

Wow....and good luck! That's all I can say.

Anonymous said...

Hey sounds like the treasurer thing will be a lot of responsibility, did you tell them you have a blog and you don't have time for such a thing? Oh well I guess with not having to do snack you can do your treasurer thing during the time you save there;)

Jacqueline said...

LOL...only you, Kristie.

Krista in Ohio said...

Oh my gosh Kristie, not team treasurer! My husband looked at me like I was crazy when we drove to the indoor soccer place to watch our 14 y.o. daughter play futsal, which is soccer with a small heavy ball and is played on a basketball court! To top it off we paid for that priviledge! It was fun to watch and our daughter did like it because it was fast and different. We have 4 kids and decided not to tell the younger 2 about sports at all!

Grandma J said...

welcome to the world of total insanity!
My grandson has the same situation with his baseball and basketball. Traveling competitive leagues, because that's all there is here. Every weekend..entrance fees (usually $150-$200), then hotels, restaurants.
Luckily you will be in charge of money! How much fun having everyone's credit card number :)
Lucky Kristie!

Amy in NJ said...

You know I remember that entry just a little while ago when you told the other parent at the soccer tryouts that you didn't even have to think about joining, that you were definitely signing Kellen up. And I thought to myself, I wonder if Kristie really knows what she's getting herself into. The traveling teams are a whole different world from rec. level. However, lots of parents and kids are pretty passionate about their involvement and it can definitely be a positive thing. Of course your life revolves around soccer, which is good, because there's no money left for other activities! I really wavered about whether or not to have my oldest do travel soccer or not and decided against it, mostly because I felt like she didn't love the sport enough to warrant the sacrifices the whole family would have to make. The last thing I wanted was for us to lay out all this money and spend all this time at games, tournaments and practices and then be arguing with her because she didn't feel like practicing or getting up early for a game. Also, it meant it would be very difficult for her to do other sports and activities and she didn't want to give those up. I question my decision sometimes, though, because it's a huge thing in town and it seems like a lot of kids really enjoy it. Not to mention that I've seen the teams play and they kick ass. I have a feeling, though, that while my oldest daughter is okay with rec. level, my second child will want to do the travel thing and I'll be traveling the same path as you.

Anonymous said...

Be glad it's just Kellen at this point and you can dive in slow before Kendrie is old enough to want to do it too! You'll be the parent with that "knowing" nod then! We did our first year of club soccer this year with two (14 and 9 year olds). Fortunately, they ended up going to tournaments in the same town so it wasn't quite so bad. And by the way, I also missed that first goal in the first tournament by both kids as we were out of state dealing with another mess. I hear you about the guilt!! I was, however, on the phone with my in laws getting a play by play when Jen scored her goal...made up for it a little!

If you think soccer is a racket, try dance! I'm not sure what the heck we were thinking when my friend and I decided it would be cute to get our girls into a dance class. They absolutely loved it. Now, 6 years later, two of my girls do company dance....3 classes a week, competitions (which equals fees, hotels, food, etc.), not to mention costumes, accessories, and recital. But you know what? I think I love it (and the soccer) just as much as they do!!

If it's not soccer, it would just be something else. Enjoy the ride!


KD said...

Uh oh. We're supposed to go to "big" swim team tryouts this evening. Now I'm afraid. Hmmm.

Donna said...

Rita--if you are anywhere near me in Kansas, I'll take you out to lunch (as long as I don't get called in for jury duty this week!) I know it's weird to e-mail somebody just off the comments from a blog, but you can sure let me know if you are in northeast Kansas--we are drivable to Topeka, Manhattan, Lawrence, KC. I can also give you some good ideas for things to do near you. I'm at if you like.

Lisa said...

W.O.W. Talk about a different culture. Seriously- over here (England) many schools have now banned football (socccer) and ALL other competative sports because it creates winners and losers and the political thing is 'everyone's a winner' if you try your best. Then because you don't need the fields anymore as you've banned the games, you sell off the playing fields and build houses on them. Not joking. Not even a little bit. Many schools now have no green space at all. I prefer it your way - but maybe not quiiiiiite so serious :)

Stephanie D. said...

OK Kristie - I'm a huge fan of yours and always have been, since the days of Kendrie's CB site, so I'm going to give you some unsolicite advice. :)

My oldest son has been playing serious soccer for approx. 6 years and they have some of the happiest years of my life. I have been his team manager for all of that time. Now, realize please that his team was #1 in the NATION for over 9 months during the 2006 year. LOL – this is serious soccer! At one point, we went to 3 tournaments in December (College Showcases – where college coaches come to look at players) and I realized that out of 31 days in the month of December, we spent 16 of them in hotel rooms/playing soccer! 

All of what you said in your post is extremely familiar and no, there is no guarantee of anything, but hopefully Kellen will have fun AND feel good about himself, while staying in shape. Some of my family’s best friends in the world are our soccer families and now that my son has graduated from HS – I am mourning their loss – I won’t be seeing them every day.

Lastly, I will end with this: Out of the 17 boys of my son’s team, ALL of them ended up with some portion of soccer scholarship to attend college ~~ and all of them are playing Division I soccer! At least 4 of them received full rides – meaning ALL of their soccer is paid for by scholarship! In our case, my son is now attending the U.S. Naval Academy, playing soccer for them! He would never have ended up at such a prestigious institution if it had not been for his soccer skills! So, take heart … it doesn’t have to take up all of your time and money (but it can) … but I can promise you this: you will spend tons of time with your son in the car traveling to/from practices, games & tourneys and that time is PRICELESS!! Enjoy every minute of this time! 

Feel free to email with any questions,
Oh and one more thing: OPL is Oklahoma Premier League. Here is Georgia, we call it RPL, Region Premier League. ;)


Stephanie D. said...

One more thing. There is something called ODP and it is the Olympic Development Program. Every state has it, but it's different from the club team - you try out for it separately. My son did that too. Very competitive, fun and not terribly expensive! :)

lizinsumner said...

All I can say is that I'm EXTREMELY glad that my son decided he likes football more than soccer!

Sue said...

OK, I am soccer-clueless. However, I did want to mention how terribly jealous I am of your scrapbooking weekend with friends! That sounds like a great time!

sandie said...

No one can tell you what it will be like until you experience it yourself.

It only gets more crazy..and either you will stay as one of the intense families, or you (or Kellen) will drop out and you will smile serenely at your ex-teammates parents at Target and say "thank god" under your breath.

You'll make it or break it. We broke it:)

Eloise said...

I loved Kathy's comment about making sure this team treasurer thing doesn't interfere with your blogging time! Don't forget you are responsible for feeding some addicts out here in the cyberworld.

Wendy said...

Well thanks for the heads-up. My kids are so not doing this. Right now, my oldest (5) doesn't even want to. I had been trying to encourage his to do something atletic. Now I think I'll just shut up and let him run around the yard to get rid of excess energy.

momto2boys said...

Wow...that would've been way more then I'd been expecting too. I just have this visual of any parent not expecting that level and being inundated with all of that information. I hope he enjoys this season for all of the $ you'll be putting out...yikes. I can just picture them giving you that job after saying you had too much time. I did team mom one year for my son's baseball team and that was enough for me. After teaching for 10 months out of the year and dealing with my students parents I certainly wasn't in the mood for the crap some of the baseball parents were trying to dish out...good luck to you and Kellen this year.

mom25in5 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mom25in5 said...


I just signed up to drive my 13 year old to a stinky horse barn 5 days a I'm liking the whole soccer thing right about now!!

Oh and don't even try to carry his saddle...that's the only qualification they have for putting you on a horse - you have to be able to lift the darn thing (uuhh, the saddle, not the horse)! ;)

Enjoy soccer..I think Kellen will love it - and love having you being involved.


Needing-a-shower Mom to:

Daniel-13 - riding 7 years
Scott-11 - too much work - thank God!
Bryan-9 - just started riding 2 weeks ago - loves it - crap!
Sarah-8 - riding about a year - loves it - crap!
Dana-8 - too hard - YEAH!

Katie said...

I happened upon your blog a few months ago and read regularly. Thank you for posting, I really enjoy it.

I have slightly different perspective here in that I'm 26 and therefore not so far out of my competitive soccer days. I played on travel teams/club teams/indoor teams/ODP etc and LOVED IT...until I was 17, burned out and ready for something new. (Which I found when I started rowing in college)

However, given a little perspective, I now really treasure those years I spent playing soccer. It gave me something to focus on, feel passionate about and build friendships on. In fact, I still talk to many of the girls I played with in middle school and high school.

I can understand how it might seem overwhelming with all the uniforms/tournaments/games /practices etc. And despite what you may hear, statistically speaking, chances are that soccer won't land your son a scholarship (no offense meant here, just few scholarships available for LOTS of interested kids).

However, soccer will likely give your son a great base of friends and the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.

Before I joined my first travel team (a slippery slope by the way), my parents sat down with me and explained the cost and the commitment and asked me to make a choice. If I chose to play, I would commit to all the games and practices. If there was ever a time where I did not want to play, I would complete the season and resign gracefully.

I later did choose to stop playing club soccer, but finished the season and bowed out gracefully (or however graceful you can be as a 17 year old). My parents were supportive the whole time (which in retrospect was amazing given the number of games I had and was driven to). I always felt like the choice was mine to make, but understood what the cost was, both in dollars, sacrifice and time commitment.

I don't know if that info is helpful at all, but I guess my point is, I'm guessing your son will let you know when enough is enough. Know also, that this is no small commitment and until the time he stops playing, this is likely going to be an year-round affair.

Bottom line, I had a really intense, wonderful experience and wouldn't trade it for anything. When I was burnt out, I stopped.

I've recently starting playing again in an adult rec league and now fondly remember when I could "really play". :)

All the best,

Anonymous said...

My two cousins played this kind of soccer when they were younger and they both were given great scholarships. I couldnt deal with it though, it would be way to much for me, and Derek would HATE it. Too much pressure for him. God he is sooo much like me it is scary!


Danielle said...

I hate that I haven't got a clue feeling topped off with a little what are we getting into. I hope it gets better quickly, or Kellen decides this isn't the league for him.

Beverly said...

Welcome to the world of competitive soccer!

Or should I say, "Oh, I'm so sorry!"

We spent 9 years in a competitive league with Steven...and if this gives you any comfort, competitive soccer is so much better than the traveling baseball teams (are other son).

At least all the parents at soccer have teeth...

Anonymous said...

I almost posted about competitive soccer last time, but everyone seemed so excited, I didn’t want to sound negative, but here goes:

Many times, these teams get hold of the newbies without explaining what this entails. It is a huge time and money commitment. Be prepared to spend every long weekend at a tournament, every regular weekend fundraising. You are lucky that Kellen scored a goal in the first game. Hopefully, they will play him. I have friends that flew their family from Florida to California just to watch their son ride the bench the entire tournament. Also, when a player takes the field once in a competitive game, they aren’t allowed to go back to rec for an entire year. If he hates it, he’s stuck.

Also, most teams (especially B teams) won’t be full unless they take some kids that aren’t as good. There is no minimum playing requirement, so these kids only play when they don’t have enough players or when their team is way ahead. I’ve even heard it mentioned that they will be used as “tackle dummies” for the stronger kids during practice. I have spent many years on the soccer board and have personally witnessed trainers talking kids who have never even played the game into signing on to club instead of rec. You can imagine what their experience was like.

One more thing: It is completely wrong that they gave you the treasurer job when you are so inexperienced in the program. I was treasurer of the entire program, but the individual treasurers have a lot on their plate. It isn’t just their payments you have to keep track of; it’s their fundraising, sponsors, extra uniform pieces, etc. Then when you think its all set, someone bounces a check and you have to call the parent. It sucks.

Be wary if they try to stick you with other jobs. We had a team here locally that was denied entry into the state and national competitions because some poor mother volunteered to register their team for the tourney and mistakenly added new players before removing the injured ones. It caused the team to momentarily have too many players, invalidating their entry into the tournament they had been training for all year. You can bet she (and her kids) caught some heat from the rest of team.

Just wanted to warn you about some of the bad stuff.


Anonymous said...

One more thing,

Make a copy of every check you receive, every cash receipt, and document every penny you pass on to the field treasurer. It never hurts to CYA and will make it easier if there is ever a question about how something is applied.


Donna R. said...

Hi Kristie,
Welcome to the world of competitive soccer!!! My daughter has played soccer since the age of 5. She is now 18 and heading off to college playing division I soccer on a partial scholarship. Unfortunately soccer scholarships are hard to come by and are rarely full ride but she plays because she loves the game!! I was like you totally overwhelmed and freaked out. My head was spinning. My advice would be to make friends with as many parents as possible on the team and that way you can take turns taking kids to tournaments to save costs. My daughter's soccer has been a wonderful bonding time for us and she has learned how to juggle school work and soccer and has learned respect for others and the importance of commitment. If you need any info or want to vent e-mail me at We always said if she did not want to play anymore it would be ok. Remember to always be supportive, Kellen will tell you if something is wrong. We never discussed the game she played unless she wanted to. Best of luck to you and Kellen.
Donna R.

Trish in VA said...

um, what happened to the "fun laid back group of parents" that you mentioned earlier? no snacks? geez! and whoever would have thought that soccer could involve so many fees?!?!

Kim said...

That is why we have always done rec sports. With 4 kids, we could never have afforded that--for one kid, let alone all four!
I hope this turns out to be a positive experience for Kellen and your seems like a whole lot of sacrifices made for just one child. I think I could have handled the expense and time commitment, but the intensity of the parents, both on our team and on opposing teams is what really makes me crazy--even at the rec level which my boys play.

Marcia, in Ontario said...

Wow, that's so different from house league soccer, at least around here. We pay something like $150 for the season, and that includes the uniform and sometimes a practice shirt. Shoes and shin pads are our responsibility, but the rest is covered.
Good luck with all of this!