We’re on our way home from another weekend soccer tournament out of town, a familiar routine for my family of five.
We spend hours in the heat and rain and cold and wind cheering on a pack of young athletes who have boundless energy and enviable stamina.
We spend money on hotel rooms and gas. Snacks and meals. Bottled water. Gatorade. More snacks for the little brother. More coffee for Mom and Dad. Over and over again.
Our daughter is a soccer player and there’s just something special about soccer kids.
Often we get home late on a Sunday night and the only thing to show for our long weekend away is a pile of laundry and a houseful of tired bodies. We wake up the next morning and dive into another week of work, school, and extracurricular activities, only to do it all again.
There are uniforms to wash and cleats to clean and shin guards to keep track of. We work concession stand shifts and set up carpools with other parents and cobble together a schedule that sometimes feels like it revolves around a soccer complex.
It’s a never-ending cycle of exhaustion. And we love it.
Watching my kid zoom around the soccer field, her capable body turning on a dime, her mind just as agile as her constantly-in-motion feet—it makes my heart swell with pride.
I’m sure all of the other parents on the sidelines feel the same way.
Because these kids are truly something incredible to watch. Their grit is matched only by their mental toughness and determination. They are committed and confident and lighter on their quick feet than seems humanly possible.
They endure every imaginable weather condition as they play the game they love. Torrential rain? Guess the uniform is getting muddy. Sweltering heat? The muscles will stay nice and warm. Wind and snow and sleet? Somehow only makes them faster.
And to see my kid on that field, to watch her do what she loves? It’s worth every mile and every second. I have a front-row seat for her game-winning goals and amazing saves and even the heartbreaking losses. I get to be the first hug when a game doesn’t go her way, and when it does. I’m there to wipe away tears of heartache and celebration. I get to watch her make friends, gain confidence, and learn how to be a team player.
When she started playing soccer as a little girl, I never dreamed it would turn into this kind of passion—for her or for us. She barely knew which direction to run, or how to dribble a ball back then, but this sport drew her in and kept her learning.
And watching her now out there with the team, seeing just how far they’ve all come and how amazing these athletes are, I know the truth: there’s just something special about soccer kids.