I’m still a relative newbie in the world of travel soccer. My son Joseph joined the Hopewell Windstorm soccer team only two years ago, and I’ve been to about 5 tournaments, which I recognize makes me a parent rookie of epic proportions in the scheme of things. But, in this short time, I have discovered that the parents are the real secret weapons to success. And I don’t mean success in the game, I mean success in preparedness, (both clothing and snacks), forethought, and general demeanor. Windstorm may rack up the stats for the game, but I have calculated my own personal stats as a parent.
This spring at the annual Memorial Day tournament, (a local one) we he had some typical spring New Jersey weather, as in, unpredictable. Within minutes of arriving for our first game on the fields while the sun was shining, thunderstorms came rolling in, resulting in a 10 minute downpour. The boys were already practicing, therefore they (and all of their belongings) got wet. Well, not just wet, actually soaked to the bone, hair flopping around, water squirting out of their cleats. My 14 year old daughter Shannon who had accompanied me, had already made her “camp” under her fort between the chairs before the rain came, and then wasn’t able to squeeze under the tent with the rest of the people who ran for cover. So, she threw herself on her ipad to protect it, and solely it – sacrificing everything else – the blanket, my sweatshirt, and both chairs. At the time of the storm, I was on my way back from the car with the umbrella and hunkered down in the doorway of the school, where I remained relatively dry until I walked the 1/2 mile back to the field in the mud.
So, now here we are 20 minutes into the tournament, and everyone (including me) already needs a change of clothes and new footwear. I am regretting leaving my fleece jacket at home, and I’m quickly realizing I did not actually prepare properly. Maybe the local nature of the tournament threw me off my game. I assess the clothing situation after they finish playing. Luckily 11 year old boys and their soccer uniforms are drip dry, plus they were already covered in mud, so that wasn’t a problem. Everything else in Joseph’s backpack was soaked – so much for dry socks. Word spreads like the earlier storm clouds that our second game is going to be delayed at least an hour. It is also being played on a field that is another 1/2 mile AWAY from where I had parked my car. Of course. Another calculated error. Look at the fields ahead of time! Proximity to the vehicle is important! So I decide to move the car, which means another trek through the now lake-like fields and mud (carrying the soaking wet blanket).
In the meantime, the Windstorm team spreads out into small packs, some split up to watch their siblings games, some go to get food. By the time I move the car and hike back up the muddy parking lot to the fields, I have lost my own soccer player. But I’ve somehow picked up two other boys from the team. We wander the fields like nomads looking for a home. Holly, another mom, has set up camp in the back of her SUV, and this seems to be working well, so Shannon, the other boys and I hang there, and we see that some parents are now returning after going home and drying out clothing. What a novel idea. I am making mental notes to myself, seize the opportunity to LEAVE. We then receive a text alert (gotta love the 21st century) that our game is delayed even later, and the clouds are looking ominous again.
Another one of the moms pulls up in her car as I’m standing in the parking lot, and leans out to ask me if I could deliver dry shorts, sandals, and one soccer sock to her son. I don’t dare ask about the one sock, but I must have looked at her oddly, as she assures me he already has the other one. She says she’ll be back after dropping off her older son somewhere, I say OK, and then we head back to Camp Holly with the shorts, sandals and sock in tow.
I think at this point I was becoming delusional, so I decide that I have enough time to go home and dry everything. Let’s face it, my other alternative was to hang around these fields in the rain for another hour. I miraculously find Joseph and we roar out of the parking lot towards home. I leap into action, throwing everything into the dryer, pealing Joseph’s wet shin guards off of him, locating dry socks for myself, barking orders. A half hour later, he is dry and we are back into the car and careening back to the fields, and it starts to pour rain again. By the time I pull into the parking lot, I can see enough through my quickly moving windshield wipers to tell there is not a soul on the fields. When the rain lets up, we venture out of the car and try to find the rest of the Windstorm boys and the coaches. I meet Holly running back to her car – she has to go back as they need their white shirts for the game and she left her son Alex’s back at her house soaking in bleach. I wish her luck, then after a short time we find at least half of the Windstorm team (and coaches too) hunkered down in an equipment shed, all the boys look bedraggled with their mud caked shoes and their jacket hoods up. Good lord, I think, no one could have prepared for this! Not unless we had a camper with a washing machine and a hot shower in it!
In another five minutes we find out that our game has been canceled and we will have to report back the next morning at 7AM for 7:30 game. No amount of coffee will help me through that. But believe me, I will not come unprepared for the next day. And it will start with a vat size mug of coffee, just in case the food stands are not open at 7AM. By my mental calculation I will just be able to get all of the laundry done before we have to leave the house.
So, there you have it – my REAL parent soccer stats for just DAY 1 of this tournament were:
# of times driven in and out of parking lot: 4
# of times moving my car: 2
# of clothing changes: 4
# of jackets needed: 2
# of loads of laundry: 3
# of cleats dried out with a hairdryer: 2
# of boys in my house who love to play soccer and are unfazed by any of this: 1
Tournament MVP – my washing machine and dryer
So, I may still be a rookie, but I am learning! Travel soccer parents everywhere, remember that we rock it – we are the MVP’s (Most Valuable Parents) of every tournament. Through rain, and mud, and early morning light, we will soak your uniforms in bleach and deliver your one sock to you whenever you need it.