I finally got the medal, dad! But I’m still mad we lost again. -Madison Higa
Madison finally succeeded in her personal quest of earning the post-game medal. When I asked her what she had specifically earned it for, she was unclear. I don’t blame her. Her coach is an i9 staffer. We just (bad) lucked into a coachless team. This was made painfully clear in Mad’s game 2 weeks ago – a 7-1 loss – in which the only point for Mad’s Tiger Sharks game on an own goal by a member of the other team. This other team (the Raptors, fittingly) was superbly coached. They made runs down the sidelines which concluded with crosses (crosses!) over the middle in front of goal. “WOOOOOOOW,” I said the first two times it happened. After that, “Holy s—.”
Now, I know the medal is meaningless. But you can’t tell Madison that. She didn’t earn the medal in either of the two games she scored in. After that second game, she asked what it might take for her to win it. “Do you think you played hard the entire game?” I asked her. “I played harder in the second half because we were losing and I wanted to win or tie it at least,” she replied. “Maybe you will get it when you play hard for the entire game,” I said.
Despite not scoring, I think she played her best game on Saturday. She flew all over the field. She’s getting more aggressive in one-on-one situations. She starting to do things on the field that reflect a kind of instinct setting in. She backpedals into space to pick up open opponents. “I see them do that in football because that’s all we watch on Sundays,” she said. Twice on Saturday she cleared goal-scoring opportunities for the other team by running toward to goal rather than toward the ball. “Why did you do that?” I asked her. “I was trying to get in their way,” she replied. For now, that will do.
I have made this joke a billion times and perhaps it would be funnier if it were not true. I greatest lesson I learned playing ILH baseball was figuring out how to deal with disappointment. I came to the conclusion that I could prepare and work as hard as possible and it still might not matter. The other team might be better. The ball might take a bad hop. I might hit the ball right on its screws for the first time in 3 games and it will find the glove of a defender. That’s just sports and it’s also just life.
I don’t know what to tell her when she asks why her team can’t win. I know what the answer is, but I don’t think she’ll be able to understand entirely. And I am not going to undermine her coach. It’s partially my fault. We can’t put in extra work during the week. But she’s signed up for the winter session and wants to pursue soccer.
“I want to be on TV like the girls soccer team that won in the World Cup. Then you can see me on TV,” she said.
“It’s not that easy,” I said.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Only the very best players get to be on TV and play for the World Cup,” I said.
“How do you do that?” she asked.
“All of the players you see on TV worked hard their entire lives, and sometimes, for some players, that’s not even good enough,” I said.
“Why?” she asked.
“Well, hard work makes your skills better, but some people are born with skills that are just better,” I said.
“How do you find out if you have it?” she asked.
“You just have to keep playing to find out,” I said.
“OK,” she said.
“Yeah?” I asked.
“I’m fast, but I need to get more power on my kicks,” she said.
“How are we going to do that?” I asked.
“We gotta practice,” she said.
For now, that will do.