Connor's soccer team used to be terrible. Some shuffling of players, combining of various squads, and general improvement seem to be paying off. Last fall, they made it to the play-offs and were third. But the team typically struggles in spring because most of the boys choose to play baseball instead. Only a few of the boys play both. Connor is one of those boys. It likely stems from Ed and I loving baseball, but Connor really enjoys soccer.
I missed most of today's game. I had attended an impromptu baseball practice in the morning in lieu of a canceled game. Then I went to Helen's first softball game (more on that, next). After lunch, I went on a 6 mile run to take down signs I had posted for a sale that took place earlier in the day. By the time I got to soccer, there wasn't a ton of time left.
But timing is everything, because as soon as I was in view of the field, Connor got right in the middle of the action and launched the ball away from the goal his team was defending, toward another member of his team. "Bravo! I shouted." And several of the moms applauded my very timely entrance.
And then the moms went on to tell me that Connor had actually been good that day. Now, none of these women would ever say anything negative about Connor's play, but there's no doubt he is not the star of the team. What he lacks in talent, he makes up for in enthusiasm though, and this is a pretty important characteristic for Connor - since typically he doesn't get that excited about anything that's not in a Minecraft video game.
I have often said what I love about soccer is that there are enough levels of play - that everyone should end up where they belong. The very best boys go play on travel soccer teams. They are truly awesome. We had a boy bound for travel soccer on our team once, and it seemed as if any time his foot touched the ball it went into the goal. It was amazing. He was singlehandedly (or signlefootedly, as the case may be) beating other teams. The coach had to implement rules like "no scoring - just passing" for this guy. By the time you get to rec league, you basically have a team of school friends that just want to play.
Today, though, it seems that Connor wasn't just the captain of cheer for the team. Instead, he chased down another player who was heading for a goal, stole the ball, and got it turned around. I saw several clean passes he made. One of the moms came and asked Connor if he had drunk "soccer juice" for breakfast.
It was really fun to watch. The coaches each made a point of telling Connor about some nice play he had made.
The best moment of the game was when a boy on our team managed to in-bounds a ball, get it straight to the open player, who kicked the ball hard - and right into the goal. A last-second goal which tied the game. No, Connor was not either of those players, but the whole game was filled with boys kicking the ball to their teammates in a timely manner and really playing with joy.
I hope it's the start of a really fun season.