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Parents Blog

Susan Boyd blogs on every Monday.  A dedicated mother and wife, Susan offers a truly unique perspective into the world of a "Soccer Mom". 



Susan Boyd

I have a graduate degree in creative writing, specifically a double degree in poetry and playwriting.  This degree equipped me to teach other students and to write poetry and plays, none of which pays much.  I began graduate school in computer science, right at the start of Microsoft and Silicon Valley.  Had I completed my degree in computer science I would not be 1) writing this blog and 2) refinancing my house to pay for my kids’ college.   I tell you this not because I want to elicit your sympathies but to illustrate that we don’t always make our choices based on the most reasonable options.  I ended up choosing writing because I love it, even though I knew it wouldn’t pay.

The same can be said for our kids choosing select soccer.  All the time I hear parents talking about their child succeeding at soccer to the point that they will get a college scholarship.  If that’s anyone’s motivation for playing soccer, then I suggest you do a quick cost/benefit analysis.  For the very few who will be lucky enough to acquire a full or nearly full scholarship to college there are 1000 players who will get a small partial scholarship and another 4000 who won’t get anything. 

Soccer is classified as an “equivalency” sport meaning that coaches can divide their scholarships among all the players on the squad.  While that is good news in the fact that most players on a soccer team can earn a scholarship, the bad news is that it will probably be about 30% of the total cost of college.  Coaches will work to develop a scholarship package that includes academic as well as athletic money, but in the end few players get a full ride.  Right now coaches have 9.9 full scholarships to work with for men’s soccer and 12 for women’s soccer.  With the squads reaching 30 – 32 players you can quickly do the math, which is exactly what I decided to do. 

Parents on the sideline often joke with one another that if they had put all the money they spent on soccer into the bank instead, they would have paid for college easily.  I wondered if that were true.  Here goes what I discovered for one son.

The club soccer fees for 13 years were approximately $9,000.  It would have been higher but one year he played on an ethnic team and the fees were only $150.  We traveled to at minimum five tournaments a year from U11 up for an average cost of $500 a weekend (if the family came along it would double) for a total of $20,000 - $35,000.  Soccer uniforms and gear averaged around $300 a year for a total of $3900.  Indoor soccer added $250 a year for a total of $2,000.  I had no idea what to include for gas and wear and tear on the car, but I thought a total of $1700 would be fair.   The grand total:  $36,600 to $51,600 and that isn’t even factoring in ODP and Super Y League costs (my brain is already exploding).   If I invested that money in a modest CD I could probably have saved up at minimum $43,000 to $60,000.  That would have covered a state school very nicely and most private schools for a year or two.  So while not exactly paying for college, I can attest that it’s more than my son presently has in scholarship!

I’m not advocating removing your child from youth soccer.  Far from it . . . my point is that playing any sport or participating in any extra-curricular activity that can be translated into a college scholarship shouldn’t be based on the goal of earning a scholarship.  It should be based on the enjoyment and immediate benefits the activity provides.  For our family it meant lots of weekends together in all kinds of weather sharing a common interest.  It also meant the chance to visit cities we might never have considered as vacation spots and making wonderful discoveries.

Playing soccer has provided us with good friendships, fond memories, the joy of success, and the humility of defeat.  You can’t put a dollar amount on those benefits – as the ad says they are priceless. 

When Bryce was awarded a scholarship for soccer, it was definitely one of his proudest moments, but the amount of the scholarship didn’t define his pride.  Being recruited and wanted by a college soccer team was reward enough.  Keeping that in perspective helps me when I have to write that check for tuition and room and board.  He plays soccer because it is his passion, and that’s reason enough to keep playing.


Travel and Representing

Sam Snow

My work requires a good bit of travel throughout the USA.  My family and friends comment that it’s a great way to see the country.  Well it has been a chance to see airports, hotels and the soccer fields that now dot the countryside.  I do occasionally get to sightsee a little and there is so much our country has to offer.

I must say though that what the travel affords me is the opportunity to meet the wonderful people involved in the beautiful game.  Keep in mind that those people are not just the ones on those soccer fields I mentioned. 

Often they are fellow travelers, airline crew, hotel and restaurant workers or even the taxi driver.  I’ve gotten into conversations with flight attendants who are volunteer coaches or administrators or the parents of players in US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) or TOPSoccer.  I’m impressed by how many Americans now have some connection to soccer.  So here’s my final thought of this little meandering of mine. 

Those of us who represent the game as professional coaches, administrators or referees must carry ourselves well.  If you are being paid any amount of money to referee, coach or administer soccer then you are a professional in our sport.  Those of us in that boat must be cognizant that we are always being judged when in public.  We represent American youth soccer and our appearance, demeanor, words and actions reflects upon the sport and all of us in that boat with you.  Let us then strive to set and met high standards for ourselves.



Workshop presenters and events

Sam Snow

This week I'd like to give you some insights to many of the first rate presenters who will be available to you at the 2008 US Youth Soccer adidas Workshop in Pittsburgh. For our coaches, referees and administrators there'll be sessions that may educate and inspire. We'll have sessions for the technical development of mainstream players, select players and disabled players. 

The presenters include our newest hire in the US Youth Soccer Technical Department John Ellinger, as well as from Dr. John Thomas and me. Alongside of us in the coaching tracks are John Hackworth, U.S. Soccer Academy Director and Assistant Men's National Team Coach; Jeff Tipping, the NSCAA Director of Coaching; Detlev Brüggemann, FIFA Instructor; Brett Thompson, Director of Coaching for Ohio South Youth Soccer Association and US Youth Soccer Region II Olympic Development Program Head Coach for girls; Dr. Don Kirkendall from the University of North Carolina and FIFA's FMARC; Karla Thompson, Director of Soccer Operations for the Arizona Fury and former U20 Women's National Team player; Brian Bliss, Director of Coaching for the Kansas State Youth Soccer Association and former Men's National Team and MLS player; Paul Halford, Director of Coaching for PA West, plus many more outstanding American coaches.

For our colleagues in officiating and administration some of the top class clinicians are Larry Monaco, President of US Youth Soccer; Rodney Kenney; Herb Silva; John Kukitz, Chair of the Soccer Start Committee; Todd Roby, US Youth Soccer Senior Manager of Communications; Dr. Aimee Kimball; Dr. David Carr among many others.

With help from many of the PA West soccer clubs we'll have on hand (foot?) some wonderful young players to assist the coaches in showing you the best in the craft of coaching. Plus for the first time there will be a Kick Zone for local players to come and try out their skills.

Did I mention the Awards Gala with the presentations of the Dr. Thomas Fleck Award, Coach of the Year honors and more? There will be exhibits, meetings, sharing of information and experiences along with new and old friendships. Join us for a fabulous time with those who support and guide youth soccer in our country.

Nietzsche Never Bought a Car

Susan Boyd

German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche said "That which does not kill me makes me stronger," which I find a highly unrealistic view of life.  According to the philosopher with every major event in my life I am either doomed to die or arise Phoenix-like with greater strength.  This particular philosophic adage may hold true for say Sylvester Stallone who developed strength enough from the originals to remake both Rocky and Rambo.  He claims he owes this renaissance to human growth hormone which I think should create the corollary to Nietzsche's axiom, "Drugs which do not kill me make me stupid."  My experience is somewhat different.  I am writing this blog, so obviously nothing has stopped me dead in my tracks, but I certainly have been run over by life a few times and as I creak out of bed each morning I don't feel stronger.
My prime example is buying a car, which we are presently trying to do.  I have bought probably 30 cars in my lifetime and I am never prepared for the experience.  Robbie found a car on Ebay that he thought would be perfect to replace his 10 year old, 135,000 mile Toyota Rav 4.  Those of you who may have read earlier blogs of mine know that I have a six year old Sienna with 183,000 miles on it.  The "check engine" light has been on for three years.  But it gets us to soccer practice, games, and even trips, so I have decided to try and nurse it along.  Plus Robbie is now old enough to do the weekend trips to Chicago, so a safer, more reliable car makes sense – or least that's what he tells me!

This particular car sat on a dealership lot in a north suburb of Chicago, so we decided to go visit them rather than attempt to bid.  We also found the same car listed on Auto Traders, Car Soup, Used Cars, etc.  So we figured the dealership was motivated to sell.  The price was clearly listed and since they were attempting to sell it on Ebay, we figured that they had a reserve which had to be lower than the advertised price.  There had been no bids on it on Ebay, so we also thought they would appreciate a bird in the hand.  I did my research.  The car was listed at $24,997.  I got the Kelly Blue Book for the car and found four others like it on the internet with retail prices of $23,000 to $23,500.  I figured we could offer $1000 lower than that and reach a good deal.  I was going to trade in the Rav 4 with a trade-in value in fair condition of $2600 and pay cash for the balance.

Here's where the "not stronger" part comes in.  I don't know why I thought this dealership would be any different from the two dozen or more I have dealt with over the years, but it was worse and I wasn't up to the battle despite being a car buying veteran.  The first thing the salesman did was add $890 to the price of the used car for "shipping."  Apparently, according to the dealership, it wasn't fair to pass on the full cost of shipping a used car they had bought in Florida onto one buyer when another buyer might be purchasing a car that hadn't been shipped.  So their reasoning was to average the cost and charge all used car buyers this fee.  Since my car was local I was now being asked to subsidize someone who had the unfortunate taste to select a car that the dealership had crossed state lines to acquire.

This fee added onto the published retail price made the total cost $3000 over Kelly Blue Book.  From that point forward things just disintegrated.  No matter what my offer, the total price of the car in dealer math ended up being the same, $26,000.  I made an offer, they lowered the value of the trade-in and viola! $26,000.  I refused the extended warranty (worth $2000), they took that off the offer and amazingly my total out of pocket remained the same, $26,000.  No matter the permutation, I would be paying $26,000 for the car.

It was voodoo economics, which now required an additional economist.  Joining the salesman was some backroom guy who "only had my best interests at heart." Amazingly, even though the cost of the automobile never fluctuated, this new guy begged me to come up with "just a few hundred more" and we could reach a deal.  A few hundred more would have made the price of the car $3000 and a "few hundred more" over the price of KBB.  He thrust a sheet of paper at me with some typing on it that indicated he had paid $26,000 for the car.  Since he had foolishly paid $3000 more than the retail price of the car according to a half dozen other reliable sources, I guess I was expected to bail him out of that situation.  Either I had to question the business acumen of the dealership or I had to hand it to them for chutzpah.

As my dejected son watched this circus, I summoned the strength to walk out with the words of the backroom guy still echoing behind me, "Susan we're only $600 a part – what's $600?"  That may have been my Nietzsche moment.  "Only $600?  Perfect. . .you take $600 off the total price of the car and we can still negotiate."  He looked at me like I spinach in my teeth.  We drove home in the old car.

Am I stronger for that experience?  We'll find out in about four hours when I toddle down to another dealership to start the process all over.  At least the price of the car we are looking at is listed just under Kelly Blue Book.  So I am hopeful that things will go well.  Right!  Just listen to me . . . I haven't learned a thing!