Today, the sport of high school soccer came to an end for our senior. He’s played on the Varsity Boys High School Soccer Team for four years. Before that, he played on park and rec teams, as well as traveling teams, but usually with this same group of young men. They’ve grown together and learned to communicate during the game. It is a great group of young men we’ve come to know and appreciate.
Today was hard. The game was physical. The other team had players that were bigger both in height and weight than our boys. Strength matters – especially if you are willing to be risky and use it against other players as intimidation. Our boys played on the opposing team’s home field – a new turf field – to an audience heavily biased against them. (Parents need to behave better.)
Today was the culmination of years of hard work. Some of our players will go on to play in college, having already made the rounds of college id camps. Some, such as our son, will not. He has the skill to play in college but is choosing not to. It doesn’t mean this hasn’t mattered to him, just that something else matters more. He wishes the best for his teammates that will play in the future on their respective college teams.
What has he learned from playing soccer?
He has learned what it means to be part of a team and work as only part of a whole.
Being part of a team means that you don’t always get your way, play the position you want, or are recognized for your contributions. A win or a loss is the result of a group effort. Sure, some feel it more intensely than others, but the outcome is the result of the whole. It is not the same as a singles match in tennis or a 200-meter race. A soccer game has a lot of moving parts, literally. Sometimes those moving parts work together and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, even though they are working together the opponent’s cogs are more oiled, more fine-tuned, and more at home on their own turf.
Our boys held their own today. It was 70+ minutes into the game before ANYone scored. And, then, unfortunately, it was the other team. The fact they lost does not diminish their love for the game, the superb coaching they’ve had, or the effort they put forth. Some days you win and some days you lose. This group of boys (young men) are impressive. They are ALL winners. And, they are ALL graceful losers.
Once the sting of the loss has abated, they will be able to look back and truly appreciate their accomplishments. They won the conference title three years in a row, coming into the title this year as an underdog. They went to the state soccer playoffs last year for the first time ever as a representative team for our district. We, as parents, could not be more proud.
Important life lessons have been learned. They are a team of winners. Their futures are bright!