The Soccer Smile

Youth Sports.

I could write 10,000 words on the topic, but I’ll restrain myself. Just this once, so don’t get used to it.

Ten years ago I didn’t know the difference between club teams and rec teams. I thought house league was a show on HGTV. I thought travel team referred to those crazy people on The Amazing Race.

Needless to say, I’ve learned plenty on the topic over the past decade.

And over the past year, my daughter has taught me how scary, hard, and worthwhile change can be.

Last year at this time she had lost all love for soccer. She was ready to throw in the towel. Long story less long, she ended up trying out for and ultimately playing for a new club- all new teammates, new level of play; and for the spring/summer season, a new position.

There has been plenty of angst along the way. Leaving your comfort zone, even if you’re not happy in it, requires some serious intestinal fortitude. The learning curve with the new coach has been steep. Figuring out the personality quirks of sixteen 14 and 15 year old girls hasn’t been easy.

She’s currently playing in her last league game of the season. She has endured the changes. Not always gracefully, but she’s rolled with everything that came her way.

We spent the past weekend at a tournament. There were, of course, plenty of team photos taken. And as I was scrolling through them on the drive home I admittedly had a moment– because her smile melted me.

Joy needs to be a part of the game. Last year it wasn’t. She needed a change and made it happen. The soccer smile is back.

There’s no way of knowing what the next round of tryouts will bring. Or how next season will go. Or how long soccer will be a part of her life.

So for now, I’m just going to enjoy the return of the soccer smile. I’m really damn proud of her.

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