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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." 
Opinions expressed on the US Youth Soccer Blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of US Youth Soccer.


Heading for a Change

Susan Boyd

One thing distinguishes soccer from other sports: ball play exclusively with either the feet or the head. We love watching the dramatic leaps and sharp cracks that accompany a header, but one of the biggest risks of injury for youth players comes from heading the ball. Players can sustain head wounds and concussions, the latter being particularly serious for the youngest players. Over the past decade, sports in general and soccer specifically have put in place concussion protocols to help detect when a player might have suffered the injury and how to treat it. Guidelines dictate how to discover if a player has a concussion through various questions to and responses from the player, as well as evaluating symptoms such as black outs, memory loss, nausea, dizziness and vision problems. However, the attitude that a head injury is just part of the game has kept organizations, families and coaches from focusing on prevention. As we have become more aware of the long-term effects of concussive episodes, we have all realized that we may need to address how to reduce the risks.

On Nov. 9, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the FIFA-sanctioned organization that oversees most adult and youth soccer in America, issued a statement concerning a comprehensive player safety campaign that will be rolled out before year’s end. The main thrust of the statement was in response to the settlement of concussion litigation which had been filed against USSF and other U.S. Soccer entities in August 2014. The class action lawsuit did not seek monetary damages. Instead it sought to force soccer’s governing body to address the dangers of concussions and to institute policies to prevent that injury. USSF was careful to clarify that it had already begun a study into player safety long before the lawsuit was filed, but indicated that the specific portion related to concussion had been given priority. The USSF worked with medical experts, trainers and coaches to develop guidelines for player safety and educational materials to address detection, treatment, and prevention of common soccer injuries. These guidelines will not be mandatory because several local soccer organizations lack the power to require adherence, but they are highly recommended. This extends to US Youth Soccer, which will support and disseminate these guidelines to state associations and local clubs.

USSF first recommends that players under 10 don’t head the ball at all. The rationale for this recommendation is that young players don’t have the muscle development to give enough support from their necks to the head during a strike. The more the head wobbles when hitting the ball, the more the brain rattles around causing injury. Additionally kids lack the motor skill development to time and control strikes accurately often resulting in head to head contact, missing the ball altogether. Young players also have still developing brains which don’t have the resilience to withstand and recover from injury in soft tissue. Those areas not yet fully developed can be permanently damaged, which can happen even in mature brains, but bring more lasting results in young brains. Treating concussions in young players is also more difficult because getting them to completely rest isn’t usually possible. They also have trouble elucidating symptoms because they have less context in which to recognize serious concerns.

The second recommendation was that players 10-to-13 years old head balls only during games, never during practice. This allows them to act upon their impulses during a fast-paced game, but limits their heading to those few instances a season. Coaches can teach proper methods for heading the ball, but without the ball. The players can spend these years training their neck muscles to be strong enough to regularly practice headers. The years can also be spent learning about concussions, their symptoms, and treatment, so that players will be better prepared to recognize when they might have been injured.

The third recommendation was that substitution rules be changed for older players. Right now, they may follow the FIFA requirements of only three substitutions per game. Under the USSF guidelines, teams wouldn’t be charged a substitution if they pull a player out for possible head injury and replace him or her. If the player can immediately return to the game, he or she must come in for the player who substituted for them, who can return to the pool of eligible players for substitution. The hope is that these guidelines will help coaches not be put in the position of sacrificing a substitution and therefore being hesitant to pull a player out putting that player at risk. Likewise the hope is that players will be more open to being replaced to check out their heads rather than toughing it out.

Each of these recommendations will be requirements for the Youth National Team program and the Development Academy. However, when the Youth National Teams travel, they will be subject to the substitution rules of the country they visit. The fact that these recommendations were reported by every major newspaper and media outlet speaks to several factors. First, it shows that USSF has a top notch PR department. Second, it indicates how significantly soccer interest has increased in America making these stories significant enough for the six o’clock news. Third, it highlights the importance of understanding the dangers of concussion for our youth players. Despite the broad media exposure, parents should still be sure that our clubs and coaching staffs have seen these recommendations and then adopt them. Check your state youth soccer association to see if the recommendations are mentioned and accepted. We parents need to recognize the importance of instituting these guidelines at every level of youth soccer and be instrumental in demanding they be implemented in our club.

Even more safety recommendations will be coming from USSF, but these concussion guidelines were rolled out early in order to address the demands of the lawsuit. The most exciting aspect of the player safety program will be the education portion. USSF promises clearer concussion protocols as well as other sideline protocols for common injuries. Recently we have seen a rise in undetected internal injuries leading to further complications even death. Therefore coaching staffs need to understand how to test for internal bleeding which is relatively easy. Also USSF will hopefully look at repetitive motion injury and introduce guidelines for reducing these through rotating drills and proper stretching. I’m looking forward to seeing how extensive this campaign turns out to be. Optimistically, it will include online training videos, pamphlets, clear guidelines for reducing injury, and parental support. No matter how detailed the campaign turns out to be, the fact that the major American soccer oversight organization is addressing player safety is a step in the right direction. Developing safety standards that we can trust no matter where we move in the country gives all parents some peace of mind. You may want to follow the roll-out of the campaign on the USSF website ( but remember that the site is primarily dedicated to announcements on the schedule and results of the various U.S. National Teams, so you may need to search a bit to discover what you want. The link on the upper bar for “stories” will take you to the various announcements the group is making. You can also get a head start on learning more about concussions by taking the free course offered by US Youth Soccer.

The lawsuit highlighted a serious health epidemic in youth soccer. In 2010 nearly 50,000 high school soccer players sustained concussions. This number eclipses the total number of players suffering concussions in baseball, softball, wrestling, and basketball combined. By asking for the establishment of guidelines and educational programs rather than a monetary award, the plaintiffs clearly placed the responsibility for these details on the primary soccer organizations in the United States. They are the ones with the resources for studying the problems, researching solutions, and distributing materials throughout the youth soccer community. As parents we have the responsibility of recognizing the various safety concerns for youth players, requiring that our clubs address those concerns, and then making use of all available research and standards to attain the best level of safety we can for our kids. As we become more aware of the possible injuries, we shouldn’t be alarmed, but we should be cautious and learn both the signs of and prevention for these injuries. Having an organization as encompassing as USSF take the lead in these factors means that we’ll have both a strong resource and an advocate in providing the safest environment we can for our children. 

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Playing Like a Girl

Susan Boyd

Last week, Abby Wambach announced her retirement from soccer. She will play her last game with the U.S. Women’s National Team against China on Dec. 16 in New Orleans. The match culminates the USWNT’s World Cup victory tour. Abby, who is 35, was considering staying with the team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janerio, but her announcement means that her wicked headers won’t be available as the USWNT pursues gold. Her leadership will be missed along with her skill. Her impact on soccer in general and women’s soccer in particular is both far-reaching and significant. Though she won’t be actively playing, she’ll continue to influence the sport for many years to come.

I began playing sports in the 1960s when there were few options for girls and even fewer role models. In elementary school as an early developer I was taller than all the boys. Therefore I was the designated center fielder for our recess baseball games because I was the only one who could heave the ball far enough from the outfield to hit a baseman’s glove. However, I never got credit for my skills because I was “just a girl.”  In my high school, girls had the choice of three sports: tennis, gymnastics and volleyball. We didn’t even get to run track, but we were encouraged to be cheerleaders. When my daughters entered high school, they had far more options. Deana trained at a performing arts high school in dance and Shane joined the swim team. Many of their friends played soccer, ran track and played softball. Nevertheless, boys’ sports still generated the majority of fans, priority use of the facilities, and a much more revered status in the social hierarchy. Still, there were several seminal changes in the 80’s and 90’s as athletic women took on a more visible and important position in sport coverage. There had been Babe Didrikson, Althea Gibson, and of course Billy Jean King, but when women’s soccer exploded onto the American sports scene, people sat up and took notice that women were succeeding on the international stage, and they were exciting. In 1991, the USWNT won the first Women’s World Cup and then appeared in the finals three more times, winning in 1999 and 2015 and losing in the final match to Japan in 2011. This tremendous success has created dozens of female sports role models from Mia Hamm to Michelle Akers to Christine Rampone (who was 40 years old in the 2015 WWC) to Abby Wambach.

Amazingly, Abby has 184 goals so far, with a .730 scoring average per game, more goals than any other international player, male or female. She has two Olympic gold medals and appeared in four WWC. Her fierce play and height as a forward made her a go-to person to crank a header into the goal, most famously in 2011 in a last second goal to tie Brazil in overtime in the WWC quarterfinals. The U.S. went on to play Japan in the finals, ultimately losing. She has been the point woman with the press, a strong advocate for the value of female athletes, and a determined teammate. Some may question her retirement just before the 2016 Olympics, but she obviously felt that going out with a WWC victory would be the right decision. She will continue to influence the sport, the young fans just embracing the game, and the overall growth of and respect for all women athletes. As President Obama said when he hosted the USWNT at the White House: “This team taught all of America’s children that playing like a girl means you’re a badass.” Precisely.

All these years, girls have had to endure hearing the phrases: “You play like a girl,” “You screech like a girl,” and “You act like a girl,” which are meant to demean boys, but backhandedly also demean the girls. Everyone should want to play, screech, and act like a girl because girls are awesome. Coaches need to learn not to express frustration with play by reverting to the old stereotypes of weak girls who are scared of the ball and worried about breaking a nail. I broke every one of my fingers at least once playing hardball and volleyball. Nails were the least of my worries. Female athletes train as hard or harder as their male counterparts, suffer injuries and play through them, possess drive and ambition, and push the limits of their skills and endurance just as much as any male athlete. What girls have now is tremendous validation through the success of women’s soccer, the growing status of professional women’s basketball, the increased visibility and TV ratings of women’s tennis — through stars like Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Anna Sharapova, and the Williams sisters — and a strong media emphasis on all women sports rather than just the stand-by gymnastics and figure skating.

The proliferation of sports channels has opened the door for televising more women-centered sports. I have the Pac-12 Network in our cable package, which regularly shows all the women’s soccer games in the league. Women have gained a literal seat at the sports table by being commentators, reporters and producers. It’s not unusual to see women offering analysis on all sports, not just women’s sports. All the major networks and ESPN employ women in roles traditionally held in the past by men in broadcasting, and some women have risen to be the primary reporters in their field. Girls can now have as role models not just the athletes on the field, but also the pundits talking before, during, and after games. I still remember all the arguments against having female reporters for NFL games — we can’t allow women in the locker rooms after games, women haven’t played the game so can’t understand it, and women aren’t relatable to the male viewer. All of those caveats were eventually cast aside as women earned their place in the booth (and the locker room).

Abby wasn’t the first to highlight the power and ability of women athletes, and she certainly won’t be the last, but she did make a huge impact in promoting both soccer and women in sports. Many high school and college women soccer players owe a huge debt of gratitude to the pioneers on the USWNT who kept playing even when they had little money, little fan support and little media coverage. By persisting in their sport, succeeding on an international level, and bringing prestige to the United States, they earned their status as top athletes regardless of gender distinction. For a long time, the argument was made that women can’t compete with and against men since they are smaller, less muscular and aren’t raised to be aggressive. Despite this opinion, women, who continue to develop as athletes in their own sports, have branched out to compete against men as jockeys, curlers, archers, golfers, equestrians, kick boxers, and in mixed doubles tennis. Women are carving out a strong position in boxing, basketball, lacrosse and soccer, all sports that could easily become co-gender without losing any intensity or team skill. Girls no longer have to accept traditional women’s sports as their only opportunities. In some schools girls are playing football with the boys. Likewise, women are being certified as officials for sports that have been males-only like baseball umpires and football referees. Significantly women have crossed over as officials for men’s soccer games for at least two decades.

I hesitate to say that a woman will never have the physical power to generate a 60 home run season or be a triple double basketball champion because I’ve seen women athletes evolve tremendously over my lifetime. Once the opportunities opened up and girls began to get the same training as their male counterparts, the differences in skills narrowed rapidly. As trainers learn more about and focus on the needs of young female athletes we’ll see fewer and fewer of the injuries that have plagued them and held them back. Rather than accepting different gender traits as exclusionary coaches should be embracing them. For example, as girls have more opportunities to play sports with the boys, they will gain from exposure to the boys’ aggressiveness and boys will gain from exposure to the girls’ ability to bond. Playing like a girl should be worn as a badge of honor no matter who’s called out.

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Old Friends

Susan Boyd

Over the course of years of playing soccer, Robbie and Bryce have been members of several teams. Each change brings a sudden break in the friendships they developed. For parents, it means we lose our comrades on the sidelines — other parents with whom we shared a love of soccer and an enthusiasm for the team. While the boys often maintained their ties to former teammates through social media, that’s generally less true for the parents. We tend to have more tenuous connections since we get scattered with multiple kids’ teams, work relationships, school parents, and our other social acquaintances that don’t involve the internet. Some of us go on Facebook, but even that requires a ridiculous amount of time to sustain. So, in general, when our kids leave one team for another, we lose contact with the parents from that team.

Last week we had returned to Milwaukee after visiting family on the West Coast just in time to rush off the plane, head north, and catch the second half of Robbie’s match. Since he was competing against a team from our hometown, I knew there would be a number of Robbie’s old teammates. I looked forward to seeing them all grown up — all that advanced facial hair compared to the baby-faced 14-year-olds I had known. The bonus turned out to be reconnecting with the parents, many of whom I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade.

One competitor’s mom had four kids in our club and so we’d had a lot of contact over a number of years. Robbie actually never played with any of her children since it was a daughter who was Robbie’s age. But the advantage of adult recreational soccer is that the team isn’t tied to a single year, so her younger son was playing on the opposing team. In my great hurry to focus on the game I didn’t notice her, and she didn’t identify me because I’ve lost a great deal of weight since I last saw her, but luckily I had to take a phone call, so she caught my voice which is apparently readily recognizable. It was special to give her a hug, and then, in that shorthand mothers develop, catch up on one another’s lives during a slow walk down the pitch after the game. I love how easily, even after a separation, we fell back into a comfortable cadence and familiarity that a shared love of the sport and our children brings. It reminds me once again about the many intangibles of my kids playing youth soccer.

It’s definitely difficult when a change of team brings a rift in relationships. It could be your child leaving the team or a teammate departing, but either one brings a separation. How can we deal with that situation, especially if there’s expressed resentment for the abandonment? That bitterness can be generated by several factors:  jealousy, fear, sadness, and ambition. Each one has to be addressed differently in order to maintain those long-term ties, which may not be nurtured for years but can be restarted when the occasion presents itself. Leaving a sports team seems to be particularly difficult, perhaps because a team is more of a choice than a school, easier to change than a house or a neighborhood, and is based on mutual trust and goals. Leaving a team can be for reasons which seem egotistical or ambitious and therefore aggravating, even affronting. On occasion a player can be dismissed from a team for reasons which are usually based on ability, signaling to a family some type of weakness even failure, which is a bitter pill to swallow. Therefore, friendships may be disrupted by resentment not solely by separation. We can continue to enjoy the benefits of these relationships if we can overcome whatever bitterness departures create.

Jealousy is difficult to handle because it rises from comparisons which may not be rational. If a teammate moves to a more competitive team, we instinctively react by defending our child’s skills. How could one player gain more favor than our own kid? Jealousy leads to resentment and ultimately to rejecting people with whom we’d previously been warm and congenial. When jealousy is directed toward us that can be as difficult. We want to do the best for our player, but we also respect and like their teammates and parents. For most of us, it’s not ego that makes us seek a different team, rather our own children prompt the change through their own passion. Jealousy is less of a concern when it comes to school. Even the smartest kids rarely switch school classes. They make take a different math or science section, but they primarily remain with their group. So we tend to have less jealousy because our kids all have a secure place in the hierarchy. Nothing stirs the green-eyed monster more than seeing someone overtly succeed over our own loved ones. The best way to deal with it is to meet it head on. Before leaving a team, a player and his parents should let the squad know why they’re moving on and express their appreciation for all that the team and coaches have contributed to this opportunity. If a teammate leaves, we should express our wishes for success and a willingness to stay in touch. We never know when a player might help create that bridge to another opportunity for our own child. When we belong to a team we share a lot of special experiences and we parents may disclose some very personal details as we sit on the sidelines, so change can be seen as a divorce that has to be met with recriminations and envy. Instead we should recognize it’s a natural progression just as moving up to first chair in the orchestra would be or getting the lead in a play. We should be happy for a child’s development.

We can also feel fear when there’s a change. It can be a fear that everything will fall apart if one of the cogs goes off on its own or fear that a close connection will suffer with separation. So we often react with anger or pulling away so we can be the first to sever the bonds. The comfort I can offer is from experience and observation. Teams, even clubs, go through several metamorphoses over the years, but there is always a place for every player. Bryce’s team completely dissolved between U-14 and U-15 as players left for what they perceived were greener pastures. As a result, on the second day of tryouts Bryce was the only one who showed up. That was in June. When he began high school, he was still without a team because he had missed all the other tryouts. The good news was that club soccer wouldn’t begin until spring. From his connections with his high school teammates, he ended up being invited to play for a Serbian team a year older who was desperate for a goal keeper. It turned out to be a great year and the fees were only $150 for everything — a far cry from the $1,500 other clubs were charging. As teams evolve and change, they seem to find a way to enfold players who may have thought they were abandoned.

Losing a good friend from a team comes with a great deal of sadness. However, the benefits of texting, Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, and other social media outlets makes staying in touch much easier. Robbie and Bryce still connect with players from their first youth squads up through college. Robbie recently went to a Packer’s game at Lambeau Field to watch his friend, Josh Lambo, (yes that’s his name) the goalkeeper on his Chicago club team who now is the kicker for the San Diego Chargers. Through years of evolving from a national team soccer player to a pro soccer player to a college student kicker for the football team to a professional kicker in the NFL, they have stayed in touch thanks to the virtual connections available to them. When Robbie left his home town club team for the Chicago Magic, I was sad to leave several of the parents, not to mention the kids I’d gotten to know. This summer, Bruce and I went to dinner and there at the next table sat the parents of Robbie’s old teammate, Nathan. We chatted on and on, learning that Nathan was going to be married soon (impossible!) and that Linda, his mother, worked in the same ER where Robbie did. Such are the threads of friendship that aren’t broken, just stretched with a change.

We are all ambitious for our children, and that ambition can lead to uprooting and moving to a new team. That’s natural, but can be disruptive and painful. We see a team as exactly that, a group of people working together who have one another’s backs. So when our child leaves or a friend of our child leaves, it seems jarring and even a betrayal of that larger trust. Yet it happens every day, during every tryout week, during any year. Because we enter youth sports without a grand plan, we just enjoy the camaraderie. Then at some point, we begin to hear the rumblings of “that club has winning teams,” “another team has better coaches,” or “recreational soccer won’t get your kid a scholarship.” Earlier and earlier parents are buying into these observations and as a result they begin to shop around. Those of us who are simply looking for a good sports experience may find ourselves in the midst of some grand ambitions. I suggest staying the course until your child expresses a consistent passion to develop his or her skills further. Until then, enjoy the fun our kids are having interacting with one another, playing a game they love, and finding good friends in the process. Also, rest assured that if and when a team changes or our child precipitates a move, things will stay steady. They’ll make new friends, they’ll keep many of the old ones, and the connection we shared with parents will transcend time, even if the time is a decade. There’s something special about having shared the experience of supporting all the kids on a team.

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Savor the Good Things

Susan Boyd

Bundled up in my winter coat, swaddled by a blanket, I sit on the sidelines in wind, rain and cold, although the calendar has barely crept into October. At times like this, I remind myself of the positive reasons for youth team sports, in particular soccer. It’s true that sports can overtake a family’s life with practices, games, travel and team meetings. Likewise, they have an impact on the finances, which can quickly spiral into the stratosphere as kids get better and more involved. Driving through snowstorms to get to an indoor game or sweltering in 100-plus temperatures to cheer on our 8-year-old may seem like an excessive sacrifice for an inconsequential activity, but it’s not. Youth soccer provides some brilliant models for our kids’ social and life development.

Participating in a team sport is well-worth some of the annoyances that come along with the play. Team sports teach responsibility in several ways. Even when young, kids can learn to be in charge of their gear — packing it in their bag and making sure they have everything in there. They take the responsibility of making sure that the uniforms make it into the laundry and then make sure they get washed. They may even learn at some point how to wash their own clothes. As they grow older, they should take on the obligation of keeping their own calendar (we can still keep the family one) and remembering to get to practices and games. They may also organize their own rides to and from events to help us out with the carpooling. Once they can drive, they have the added task of making sure there’s a car available, filling it with gas occasionally, and coordinating school, homework and other activities with the demands of soccer.

Sports require problem-solving. People often talk about having a “soccer brain,” which is really all about anticipating complications and choosing the best outcome, usually in a split second. The tactics of soccer are all about problem-solving: How do I get past this defender? How should I set up a wall? Should I use my right or left foot? Working out situations with teammates requires conflict resolution, which is a specific form of problem-solving. Kids have to figure out ways to approach their coaches if they have concerns about playing time or position. If they have conflicting events in their schedules, they need to figure out how to resolve them and then how to let the proper people know. Problems crop up as they go through soccer, which they will need to address. If we let them solve them on their own, they’ll be that much further ahead in solving life’s other concerns.

Every player has to have persistence to defend, to score, and to advance. Things won’t always go perfectly in practice, games, or off the pitch, so kids need to learn how to set goals and then have the determination to make things happen. When there are setbacks they learn not to dwell on them and to use their reasoning and skills to work through them. The persistence they develop as players carries over to other situations in school, job, and family. Sports teaches them to stick with it, fight through obstacles, and stay focused on the goal. It’s both fact and analogy.

One of the biggest advantages of youth sports is teaching the players collaboration. In the college writing courses I taught, I regularly asked my students to collaborate on tasks. I was amazed at how few could do so successfully. I would observe groups where a single student took over the project while the others stared at the ceiling or fiddled with their phones. Other groups would divide the task into parts, each student working independently until they all brought their work product together without any cohesion or flow. Then there was always the group that simply languished, uncertain on how to proceed and too afraid to ask. When groups succeeded invariably they had at least one member who played a team sport. He or she understood the process of collaboration and helped the others get on board. Collaboration means suggesting options together, openly discussing them without any one person’s opinion being more important than another’s, and then arriving at a joint conclusion through negotiation and compromise. During practices, teammates work with one another to find the best collaboration to achieve the best results. They work through various tactical drills to discover how everyone’s talents mesh and then pick the best combination to bring success. Teams with a weak center midfielder will develop strategies to best exploit all the talents of that center while bolstering with help from other players. The ability to adjust collaboratively is necessary during matches when the opposing team occasionally thwarts the plans. In those cases, collaboration may require a leader, but also requires the unselfish investment of every player in creating an effective action plan. Learning to compromise for the good of the team is an integral part of any collaboration. When players learn to cooperate on the pitch, they can translate those behaviors to the classroom, boardroom, neighborhood and even family life.

Finally, kids learn the value of sacrifice when playing on a team. The image of sacrifice resulting in some terminal disaster is promoted by the connection with lambs to the slaughter or maidens tossed in volcanoes. In reality, sacrifice is the process of giving up something for the good of others or success in a situation that ultimately benefits everyone, even the person making the sacrifice. A player who holds onto the ball and tries to take on three defenders isn’t realistically going to score, so he or she should sacrifice personal glory by feeding off the ball to an unmarked teammate. Even more significantly, a player may be in a position to score, but the shot is tricky, so he or she passes it off to a buddy who has a clearer line to the goal. If a contest is close, players may need to sacrifice their playing time in favor of a stronger player, yet everyone shares in the victory.

Likewise, players learn to make personal sacrifices, giving up some sleep to take an early morning training run or missing the prom to join the team at a tournament. Too often parents try to minimize the sacrifices kids need to make, but sacrifice helps a child learn how to prioritize, to not dwell on what’s lost, and to realize no one is truly entitled to have the whole cake. Kids who make sacrifices for the things they want end up valuing them more.

These positives of team sports are predicated on parents letting their children learn about and use these skills. We can be helicopters keeping track of everything, doing all the logistics, solving their problems, protecting them from disappointment and doing all the talking. Then what? Sports can help kids mature into extremely capable adults. Any athlete who aspires to the college level has to be able to independently handle the demands of studies, athletics, and possibly even jobs. The same holds true for any child growing up and taking on more and more duties. They can’t just suddenly leap from the cocoon of their parents to life on their own. They won’t learn how in the summer between high school graduation and the first day of college or a job. These skills must develop over time, building on one another. We parents can provide some safety net, but we have to diminish that role over time and we can be assisted by the natural benefits of youth sports. We want to simply become the cheerleaders on the sidelines, in reality and metaphorically, braving the elements to give our kids wonderful opportunities.

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