Madison’s soccer career began yesterday afternoon at CORP. It wasn’t a disaster, which is impressive considering what happened about an hour before her first practice. I wanted to go to the park after work on Wednesday and Thursday so Madison would have at least a little experience before Saturday. It rained both days. It was sunny on Friday, but we attended the Damien Homecoming pep rally. The first game of the NLCS started at 2 yesterday so I made Mad put her shin guards and socks on about an hour before we were to leave the house and I tried to teach her a little passing. It was terrible. If I had to liken her to a professional soccer player, it would be Ronaldo. Ronaldo McDonald.
For reasons I don’t understand, she kept trying to trap the ball with the outside of her foot. I told her four times to use the inside of her foot and she didn’t make the adjustment. I asked her to point to the inside of her foot. She looked down at her feet but didn’t point. I could feel Coach Phil trying to get out. I didn’t let him. I finally got her to kick the ball (kind of) straight and stop the ball with the insides of both feet. It might have been the best teaching I’ve done in years. When I tried to get her to kick the ball, she couldn’t do so without flailing both arms out wildly. If she lifted one leg, the opposite arm would rise as a counter-weight, but also the other arm would jut in the opposite direction as a counter-weight to that. It was the opposite of athletic and immediately reminded of George Sr.’s version of the Bluth Family chicken dance.
As you could imagine, I was pretty curious to see what would happen when she got around other children and into the wide open spaces of the field. It went mostly well. She did whatever her coach told her to do – that is when she understood the instructions. She and another girl botched a passing drill. When she came over to the sidelines during a water break I asked her if she understood what the coach was telling her to do. Her mouth remained on the nozzle of her water bottle for another 10 seconds before she lowered the bottle. “Not really,” she said. She turned on the spot and jogged back to the field.
You know what Madison learned yesterday? Soccer requires a lot of running. I didn’t catch her with her hands on her hips, but she was sweating pretty intensely for most of the practice. I know for a fact, though, that she wasn’t totally wiped out because when she was waiting for her chance to get into the scrimmage, she took a knee, but wobbled to maintain her balance because she refused to sit on the grass outright. She hates that. She got into the scrimmage halfway through and this, of course, was what I had been waiting for.
Other than the one possession during which she forgot which direction she was supposed to advance toward, she was awesome. She hustled and got into the scrums of ten sets of legs kicking and wiggling around a single ball. When the other team scored with her on the field, she made eye contact with me and smirked. I think she was both excited that someone actually scored, but also disappointed because it wasn’t her team. Speaking of which, her team has decided to call itself the Tigersharks. Current events, I guess. “When the coach asked us what we wanted our team to be only one boy said something and he said ‘Tigersharks’,” Madison explained. “Oh,” Lynnette said. Madison’s first game is next Saturday and we’re both excited. We practiced passing in the living room during the Mets defensive innings today during today’s NLCS game. She’s a lot better than she was yesterday, and really, that’s all I can ask for.
When Madison revealed her interest in playing soccer this summer, I told her I would only require her to finish out this season. If she gave it a try and decided she didn’t like it, she could stop. I had long given up my hopes of Madison having an athletic career. Yet here she is, once again fulfilling my dreams simply by being her amazing self.