My son participated in tryouts out for a new travel soccer team at the end of a recreational fall soccer season one chilly evening in November. He has been playing recreational soccer since he was three years old when we started with the local club. He has been asking about joining a travel team since kindergarten. In recent seasons, I watched him struggle in the recreational league. I watched him wanting a little bit more in the sport as he developed his passion—he was ready to grow.
We knew he loved soccer, and it was something he had always wanted to do. So, we gave it a go. He was able to try out during a travel practice with 8- and 9-year-old boys. He was both excited and nervous, but he showed up to be evaluated by the coaches in the middle of a fall/spring season, which can be difficult to do since teams are already established.
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After the practice, we drove home. He was quiet at first. Then, he said it went well, but he said that one player talked smack to him and was critical of his performance. This was a small encounter, but it stayed with him. I get it.
He wanted to fit in, be liked, and be valued by the other players.
Then, there was also another kid, who said, “I’m rooting for you. I hope you make the team.”
I don’t know the mom of that child’s parents. But if I did I’d tell her thank you.
Seriously, thank you. I believe with my whole heart that these are the bigger, more important, lessons in playing the game.
Because that kid’s cheerleading words of affirmation are what I told my boy to focus on.
I told him, “Find the friends who root for you instead of people who tear you down. There will often always be both. And you have to learn to lean in to find the good and find friends and teammates who are willing to cheer for you and ignore the rest.”
The best reminder for you in this season—whatever you’re going through—is don’t be discouraged. Find people who will root for you.
I’m rooting for you.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page