The USWNT winning the Women’s World Cup might be only the second best result of the tournament.
I have asked Madison about playing soccer many times. She has always declined, most recently stating her dual fears of getting dirty and catching the ball with her face. When the USWNT was in the group stage during this summer’s Women’s World Cup, Madison hated the fact that the game always preempted her television programming. “I hate soccer,” she’d say storming out of the living room. “It’s so boring!” I’d hear from her room. But a funny thing happened over the course of the tournament. She stopped complaining. She sat with me sporadically. Whenever I shouted because of a USWNT goal, she’d run to meet me at the couch, then marvel at the replays. After the final game, she and I played a modified version of penalty kicks in the living room.
For reasons Madison has not explained, she decided she wants to give soccer a try. Lynnette and I tried our very best to explain to Madison that soccer was basically a lot of running. I told her that we’d be spending a lot on her equipment and the league. I told her that if she gave soccer a try and decided after the season that she did not want to play anymore, I would accept that. I told her she would always have to try her best. I told her that I would not accept her quitting during the season. She agreed to these stipulations.
We purchased shoes, shin guards, socks, and shorts for her today. I didn’t get a ball because I was positive I could find one on the ‘net. It’s been a while for me and the whole youth soccer thing. Lynnette never played sports growing up. These details came to the forefront as we tried to pick out socks. Madison had already selected Nike cleats, and Athlete Phil (the guy who preceded Coach Phil) hateshateshates the thought of wearing non-brand-matching shoes and socks. Lynnette rolled her eyes, but like Mrs. Fighting Eel von Eden in Love couldn’t understand that? Shyeah, right! I wanted a pink pair and Lynnette wanted a black set. “I’m afraid the pink ones will get dirty,” Lynnette said. “You’re afraid athletic socks are going to get dirty?” I asked. Lynnette growled, but I couldn’t interpret it.
My own experience with soccer is limited. I scored exactly one goal during my entire AYSO career. I blasted the ball toward goal from just inside mid-field. The goalkeeper came out to get it, but the ball bounced short of him, then over his head and into the goal. It was exactly like the Carli Lloyd goal except she actually had a plan and executed it. I think I just wanted to kick the ball as far as I could because why not? Other than that, the only other two soccer highlights I own are getting my eye oribit shattered in intramural (outdoor) soccer and scoring with my left leg on a pass from Jason Mau in intramural (indoor soccer). I have set the bar extremely low for Madison.
I don’t want to jinx it, but I am so happy. After Madison tried the Nikes on and decided on them, I placed them back in the box and closed it. I took the other shoes that didn’t make the cut and returned them to the wall. My eyes were a little misty. She probably won’t be the next Alex Morgan. She might eventually get hidden at right fullback just her father was at the end of his AYSO days. It doesn’t matter. Mad playing sports had long ago joined the list of dreams that I’ve given up on. Yet here we are.