I know you’re all dying to know how the soccer team situation with my son turned out. Or maybe you’re not, but it’s my blog and I’m going to tell you anyway.
After I sent my email, things did actually change a bit. The coach started the best seven kids for each of the two remaining games, and the team played pretty decently as a result—a team that beat our kids 11-0 in the first meeting eked out a 3-1 victory that was even closer than the score indicated, and the final game was another loss (2-1), but the game was marred by horrific officiating and should have gone the other way. If they had played that way all year, their final record would have been much more like 6-2 instead of 3-5.
In other words, I asked the coach for some hope, and I got some. So I figured that the best thing to do was to have my son tryout for both teams—his current squad and the one that we were considering switching to. Since the tryouts were a week apart, there would be plenty of time to decide which team was the better option. His current squad was holding their tryouts first, so worst case scenario was that it would be a good warmup for the team he wanted to be on.
As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones with that strategy.
Of the 10 members of the current team, 4 of them didn’t come to tryouts—and those were four of the starting seven. Of course the three kids who don’t belong on a soccer field came. But there were a significant number of new kids, about 20 total. Unfortunately, only one was any good. Kevin was clearly the dominant player on the field, perhaps energized by the fact that he knew that this was a “warmup tryout,” as I had been calling it.
Parents weren’t allowed on the field, so I spent my time talking with some of the parents from other age groups in the nearby bleachers (the other parents in Kevin’s age group all hate me—shocker), including some from the group that my son used to play with (his first year, he played “up,” meaning he played with kids born in 2007 instead of his birth year of 2008). We all had the same complaints—not trying to win, playing kids who didn’t care, and, most importantly, our kids not improving or getting any better in comparison to kids on other clubs. They were all planning to have their kids tryout for other clubs the following week, too. It didn’t inspire any confidence in me that the coach and team that my son would be moving up to was having the same issues as his current squad.
When they posted results from the tryouts, they didn’t do it alphabetically or randomly—they posted them in descending order by tryout score. Kevin was 1st, followed by the one new kid, and then by another very good player from his current squad. The kid who doesn’t seem like he wants to be there? He was the second to last on the list—I was shocked that he made it. His friend who also isn’t that strong? He scored fifth. Oy vey.
Never mind, we had another tryout coming.
When we arrived for that tryout, I was immediately disheartened—these kids were good. I could barely believe that they were in the same age group as Kevin. They were all a head taller, they could strike the ball with power from several angles, and they were all just as quick as my boy, if not a hair quicker. No wonder that both the A and B squads from this club were in the top five teams statewide (can you believe there are computer power rankings for 10-year-olds?). Our current club didn’t even have enough kids for a B squad.
Luckily, several of Kevin’s friends from our indoor futsal squad showed up a few minutes after we did, and that relaxed him (and me) considerably. The tryout began a few moments later, and while he was definitely behind some of the kids from a skillset perspective, he was grinding and fighting and playing his hardest in every drill. But I wasn’t convinced that he was going to make it. In fact, I was mildly certain that he wasn’t going to.
So when the 75 minute session was over, all that was left was the 40 minute drive home and the wait for the phone call from the coaches—they told us that we’d each be receiving a call that night. Kevin didn’t seem too concerned—he was playing a game on his phone in the backseat as we drove.
“Hey, bubba,” I began. “No matter what, I’m very proud of you. You played your hardest, and fought against some great competition. And we know that you were the strongest player last week at those tryouts, so you’re going to be on a team no matter what.”
“Yeah, I know.” He didn’t even look up.
But I was worried. I paced back and forth all night, waiting for the call. I was mostly worried about what would happen if his friends made it and he didn’t.
And then the phone rang.
“Hello, Mr. Baruth? My name is Andrew, I’m the coach of the Blue Team for 2008 Boys? I wanted to call and let you know that we are offering Kevin a spot on the team…”
“WE ACCEPT!” I blurted out. “Yes, we want to be on the team.”
“Ok, great! We’re happy to have him. Make sure you go online and register him in the next 24 hours.”
We were the first one to get the call, but as the night went on, the group text among all the parents of my indoor team kids dinged over and over, as each of our kids made the team. $1,290 later, Kevin is a proud member of a new club with some of his best friends, on a team that plays in the Premier division against the best clubs in the state.
I was downright excited to send an email to the director of the old club, letting them know that Kevin would be switching clubs for the upcoming season. It took them all of five minutes to remove his name from the website. I was briefly worried that they’d kick my daughter off of her team, too, but a quick scan of the site showed she was still on the U9 Girls “A” squad (she had tried out the night before and easily made the team, too). Of course, now I have kids on two different clubs, practicing and playing in two different cities…but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Ultimately, I think I made the right call. For once, I’m actually excited to go watch his team play, because I know that they have a chance to win, and even if he’s the last kid off the bench (which he might be for a little while), he’ll enjoy that much more than being the strongest player on a weak squad.