Check out the weekly blogs

Online education from US Youth Soccer

Clubhouse

Play for a Change

Play for a Change

US Youth Soccer Pinterest!

Check out the national tournament database

Sports Authority

Play Positive Banner

Marketplace

Wilson Trophy Company

Happy Family

Nesquik

Capri Sun

Nesquik Photo Sweepstakes!

Active Family Project

Active Family Project

Print Page Share

Parents Blog

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

 

Reel Time

Susan Boyd

Outside of my family and soccer, my greatest passion is film. I love movies, especially old movies. I find myself drawn to certain films time and time again. Although so familiar that I can recite lines of dialogue, I still enjoy letting these movies wash over me once more. People may wonder why I would "waste" time on an experience I have already had. I'm not completely sure why, but I think I understand it in some ways.

Strong visual medium, such as art, books, and film, strives to offer the viewer enough complexity that no one can take it all in with one viewing. Studying the "Last Supper" multiple times means art historians continue to make stunning observations about what Da Vinci intended and what mysteries exist in the fresco. Readers can still glean new insights and interpretations from Moby Dick or King Lear. In addition visual medium depends upon the experience the viewer brings to the event. I am certain that seeing "An Unmarried Woman" while happily married and then again in the throes of a divorce will alter perceptions of the film. Great art is vibrant and alive allowing not only for the possibility of a new outlook but a new outcome as well.

I know that on that wet and foggy tarmac in Casablanca Rick will convince Ilsa to leave with Victor using the unforgettable dialogue ". . . maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life . . ." but I am nonetheless caught up in the moment because the promise still exists that she may not leave. Rhett tells Scarlett, ""Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. . ." yet before the door closes I can hope Scarlett will explain and all the ridiculous mix-ups preceding it will sort themselves out. In the "Godfather" there is that moment of tension before Michael Corleone shoots the police chief in cold blood that I'm not sure he can do it or that he can survive doing it, despite the fact that the scene has played out on my TV screen a dozen times previously.

When the character Tom Baxter walks out of "The Purple Rose of Cairo" into the movie house to meet Cecilia, Woody Allen showed how the promise of something different draws people into movies. Cecilia watches the film repeatedly until finally at one viewing Tom Baxter turns away from the prescribed action and says to her from the screen, "You really must like this movie." It would never happen, but it is exactly the reason I watch films again. It's comforting to see the same moments played out again and again, but it is also delectable to think this time it might be different.

So what does my movie viewing have to do with soccer? I think I bring the same optimism and openness for whatever may happen when I come watch soccer games. I try not to set myself up for any expectations or disappointments and instead just let the game play out. I wasn't always that way. I did try to "write a script" for every game, and like a director whose actors have refused to follow her scenario, I would go crazy. I'm not sure why I thought I could control the outcome of a game by my tantrums and taunts any more than shouting at the screen "You idiot. . .don't leave with Victor" would change Ilsa's mind. It took me a long time to realize that the destiny of the game was to a certain extent already written at least in the sense that no one person could change the outcome. I know that in Europe and South America the crowd believes they can turn the tide – and perhaps screaming in the 10s of thousands they can – but I have never attended a youth game with more than 100 fans on the sidelines, so we are a weak tribe against the fates!  

I do make a huge investment when I watch my movies. I make sure the house is quiet, the shades are drawn, the dogs are walked, there is a full glass of water or ice tea beside me and a good blanket to curl up in. I hang on every word, cry at even the puniest of emotional moments, and feel myself gripping the arms of my chair as tensions rise. I know the tiny high school team will win in "Hoosiers" but I still hang on every shot, every foul and every disappointment because they might lose this time.

It's that way when I go to a soccer game. I make sure I have my chair set just right, a bottled water next to me, an umbrella or blanket nearby if needed and my "hope springs eternal" tube of sunscreen. I have seen this game many times, yet I have no idea what the outcome will be, and that creates delicious opportunities for amazement or frustration or tension or joy. All the things I feel when I see a good movie. The big distinction is that the game will be different each time. I can count on it. All I have to do is sit back and enjoy. That's worth the price of admission.
 

Fair Play

Sam Snow

Yesterday I was in Milan, Italy at the San Siro stadium. I watched Inter Milan play against Palermo. Inter won the match 2-1 in front of 40,000 spectators. Those watching included the 1993 and 1994 US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program Region I boys' teams and staff. The match was skillful, quite tactical and in the second half it was played at a fast and entertaining pace. Three distinct times during the match the teams displayed an unwritten rule of the game. It is a rule which more of our coaches should teach their players.
 
When a hard injury occurs and it is seen by the players that the injured player or players will not get up then the team with the ball intentionally kicks the ball out over the touchline. Once the ball is out of play then the referee may allow onto the field the first aid staff. They may now attend to the injured player or players. When the match resumes the team taking the throw-in throws the ball back to the other team's defensive third and they do not challenge the ball until the other team has the ball under control. So team A has kicked the ball into touch so that aid can be given to an injury. In a return act of Fair Play team B puts the ball back into play with a throw-in and gives the ball back to team A. Fair Play – be a good sport! This act occurred in a Serie A match where big money is on the line. Inter Milan played the ball out and Palermo gave it back. This was one instance of Fair Play.
 
In the other two cases players had horrific collisions with both players collapsing to the ground and then no movement at all. The referee immediately stopped the match and called on the first aid personnel. When hurt players don't move it's a real red flag; sometimes writhing is a good sign. When play resumed with a drop ball the team that didn't have possession of the ball at the time the match was stopped stood passively at the drop ball and let the opponent kick the ball to a teammate; an act of Fair Play by team A. Mind you too that team B kicked the drop ball back toward their end of the field to a supporting teammate. This act occurred in the Palermo and Inter match.
 
During the same match a second serious collision occurred with again the referee instantly halting play. This time at the drop ball the opponent didn't even stand near the drop ball and allowed the team who had been in possession to play the drop ball completely uncontested. In this last case it was Palermo in possession and they played the drop ball back to a supporting teammate; an impressive bit of sportsmanship for a team that was losing 2-1 at the time.
 
Now if professional teams in one of the best leagues in the world where millions of dollars are at stake can display Fair Play why not our youth teams? So whose job is it to instill Fair Play into our youngsters? First and foremost it's a responsibility of the parents. Then of course the coaches must teach and demonstrate sporting ethics. Once the adults set the right example then it is up to the players to live up to the standard.
 

Once you know it all

Sam Snow

This past weekend I attended the 2nd annual state coaching symposium for the Wyoming State Soccer Association. The symposium weekend included the coaching session, both classroom and demonstrations. There was also a state assignor course for referees, US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program training for the boys and girls and the Annual General Meeting for the state association. It was a weekend packed with wonderful soccer activities and folks from all around the state joined in the fun. This is quite impressive given the geographic size of Wyoming and the distances people must travel to participate in any soccer activity.
 
Two weeks ago, I was in Maryland working with coaches at the Icebreaker clinic. In both cases, and in states that are 1,600 miles apart, volunteers and paid coaches took the time and made the effort to continue developing their coaching craft. I was impressed and pleased by the commitment of these coaches to learn more about the game and how to coach. These are the sort of folks upon whom the game grows. They do not assume they know it all just because they have played the game or coaches for a number of years. They are eager to learn more and actively seek insights from other coaches. The dedication of these coaches to continually improve themselves so that they can coach other people's children is remarkable. They sacrifice time from their own families and jobs to do something good for the soccer community. All of these coaches, especially the volunteers, should be applauded!
 
The experience of the coaching clinics and symposia brings up the question of who's coaching our kids. Too often clubs accept a warm body to coach because they are often in dire need of a coach for a team. Yes, we do need coaches for the teams so that the kids can play, but why do we allow some to continue to coach without any coaching education. As a parent we would not send our children to a school where the teachers had no qualifications to teach. Parents are the customers of a soccer club in that they pay the fees. The players are the consumers of a soccer club as they partake of the services of a soccer club. The players are the ones in the club in order to receive a soccer education.
 
The leaders of a soccer club have an obligation to the consumers to push the coaches in the club to continually improve their craft. The customers of the club should expect and demand this effort from the club. If we raise through education the abilities of the average coach then we directly raise the caliber of play in the USA. We quite likely then also keep more kids playing soccer longer into their teenaged years. So for a soccer club the continuing education of its coaches and administrators means better retention of the consumers and therefore the customers too. This can only improve the health of soccer.
 
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.
-John Wooden
 
 

Momnesia

Susan Boyd

This morning I was made aware by the Today Show that I have a major clinical condition. There's even a scientific study being done of this phenomenon which they have academically termed Momnesia – no kidding – look it up! It seems that once our children are born our brains become a hodgepodge of chemicals which cloud our memory and our ability to organize and carry out many of our day to day tasks without error. 

The feminist in me would take exception to this characterization apart from the fact I fit the diagnosis to a "T". I have a sister-in-law who would be the exception, and I definitely admire her ability to remember the tiniest details and to organize fundraisers where they make more than the gross national product of several small nations. I know that every rule has an exception. And I know I am not it. Case in point: soccer road trips.

We have our first one of the season coming up next weekend to St. Louis. This is about a five hour drive and one that we make at least twice a year for at least eight years now. I'll still manage to screw it up. The last time we drove down, I took out the soccer chairs so I could lay the suitcase flat on the floor of the trunk. When we arrived in St. Louis those chairs were still standing in our garage inches from where our van departed. I forgot which hotel we had reservations at, as well as the reservation confirmation papers, which would have reminded me. I missed the turn off I-90 to I-39 at least twice, and I can assure you that is costly 30-minute error. Once, I loaned our I-Pass to friends for the previous weekend, and despite the fact that the I-Pass sits prominently on my windshield, I neglected to see that I had not retrieved it, and went merrily through the I-Pass lanes without it. Luckily there were only two the entire trip.

When we were going to Des Moines the first time two years ago, I forgot to bring along a map. We ended up taking the long route to Des Moines which is not necessarily the scenic route. I actually did a Lewis and Clark impersonation and used our compass to help get us to the west where I knew Iowa resided. When we got to the hotel I used the internet to locate the route to the fields except I put in the wrong address and we ended up 30 miles to the north and one hour late to practice. The next trip to Des Moines I had more maps than I knew what to do with, but I nearly forgot my computer so I could do the blogs from Nationals. We had to turn around and go back home when a billboard ad for an internet provider triggered something in my fogged-out brain. I usually can count on my sons to remember the computer since they like to keep in touch through Facebook and IMs, but they were all about the video games on this trip.

I spend most of my preparation time before trips making sure that the boys have cleats, uniforms, shin guards, goalie gloves, hydration and soccer bags. I remind the boys to bring underwear, extra clothes, khaki pants, training shirts, homework, iPods, cell phones, chargers for electronics and toiletries. I am always treated with disdain for any reminders I make to the boys, yet invariably once I make a reminder, one or both go bounding up the stairs (although they claim not for something I suggested). 

Once in the car I go through the list again, meet with the same snarls and again one or both leap out of the car and disappear for several minutes into the house. I manage to remember to pack the Dry-Guy (which I highly recommend for spring road trips) but I forget my camera.   I manage to insure that we don't repeat the emergency cleat buying episode of 2000, but I have had to run out and get deodorant for me. One memorable trip, I went to the front desk of the hotel four times in order to get items I forgot: comb, toothbrush, toothpaste (I swore I had that - at least that is what I told the smirking clerk), and pain reliever probably necessary due to my brain imploding. I have reminded the boys to bring swimsuits despite them never wanting to. Of course the one time I don't remind them everyone went swimming, and I was persona non grata for being so lapse in my oversight.

My rule about road trips is that everything has to be in the kitchen ready to go the night before we leave. This means that the boys only go back upstairs to collect missing items three or four times the morning of departure. Bryce packs all his clothes and then pulls them all out on the kitchen floor to find the perfect shirt to wear on the trip. This usually requires testing at least three choices before discovering the right one. I follow my own rule. I have my bags packed and my accessories on the kitchen table ready to put in the car. The problem is that I get distracted by all the other morning activity, the panic over a missing PSP (which should have been located the night before, naturally), the sudden request for a shirt still in the laundry basket, the discovery that a favorite pair of cleats has a tear at the toe and the hunt for a jacket that no one has seen for three weeks. Once, while trying to navigate through all the hubbub, I realized that the dogs were also running about. I had forgotten to get them to the kennel, which didn't open for an hour. What generally happens is that one or more of the items I lay out on the kitchen table are still lying there when we return home. I am so relieved to get everyone and their gear into the car, that once they exit the door, I am close behind to thwart any retreat back into the house with the casualty being my necessities.

The good news is that most road trips are just a weekend, so missing some things won't kill me. The tough trips are the week long ones – my low point was forgetting to pack underwear on one of those – where I have no choice but to find a Target or a Walgreen's and if possible replace what I didn't bring along. I didn't include those expenses in my estimate of what it costs to have a child in select soccer, but I probably should have. It seems that Momnesia is not only epidemic but without a cure. So I expect many of you suffer from it and many of you have made those trips to unfamiliar malls. I know I have it bad. Let's see if I can remember to attach this blog to my email to US Youth Soccer!!