Future Legends: an Unpaid Endorcement
When I was younger, I used to vow I’d never be a soccer mom.
People, listen. If all soccer could be like what I just experienced this past week, I’d gladly drive a mini-van, iron uniforms and cart the kids off to games every weekend. Because what I saw this past week was kind of incredible.
Sunday, I finally got word back about soccer for Claire this fall, that she would have to participate in a U-6 team that basically involves 30 minutes of kids chasing after the ball in a mob-like fashion. I know, as a parent, we’re supposed to believe that our kids are vastly skilled in any project they undertake, and I get it, but this isn’t like that. Claire is good at some things. She’s OK at some things, too. Sometimes, she’s excellent. One thing I can say for certain is that Claire has natural ability and the drive to want to play soccer. So after I got word about the team she’d be on, I got worried, thinking that if she were to do that kind of soccer, she’d quickly become bored or disappointed. One thing she craves is skill and rules. She wouldn’t get that under U-6. So I asked about U-7 which is an all girls league with actual game play and rules. However, you have to be, you know, seven or at least six and a half. Claire will just be turning six by the end of the season.
I swear, I’m not one to push my kid where I don’t see it beneficial. For example, Claire really has to work hard at taekwondo. It has not come easily to her whatsoever. And it’s refreshing that she has to work so hard, to be honest.
But Claire really, truly loves the sport and has shown Matt and I potential. So the soccer league said that she can be evaluated by a professional on a certain date to see if she’d qualify to bump up. Apparently this happens a lot, however, the director said not to be sad if she doesn’t qualify and has to play U-6.
Of course I wouldn’t be sad. But I’d like to see if she has the potential.
Think of it this way. If you were a fluent reader, but was stuck learning the alphabet all day, you would be bored, too. That’s how I feel Claire is.
So to prove my theory, I enrolled her into a soccer camp for the week. It’s run through PISA which stands for Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena. It’s the place that’s literally within a mile of my house. In the past, I’ve had Claire and Luca do their “Happy Feet” program which is a really great way to introduce the sport to kids using songs and little rhymes.
Recently, the Happy Feet Director Coach Ande created a new one for older kids called Future Legends. And this was their first camp.
I didn’t realize they had a camp planned until 24 hours before. Seriously. I emailed Ande and he said it wasn’t too late to enroll and had her show up the next morning. There were only 7 kids enrolled, including Claire. I was happy for this, because that meant more one-on-one with the coaches for the kids, but of course, I know they wanted more kids. But for a first go, I think it was a good size.
The camp was 2 1/2 hours in length and was super reasonable in price (135!) for five days. Claire was the youngest kid enrolled, with the other kids being 6, 7 and 8 years old.
At the end of day one, I emailed Matt to let him know how it went:
“When I got back to PISA to pick her up with about 30 minutes left, Claire was the only kid with any energy left, still running full lengths and chasing the ball. The other six kids were spent and red faced. So what I learned about Claire is A.) she’s determined and B.) she’s got major endurance. She had so much fun. We got home, she ate three chicken hot dogs, drank two glasses of water, took a shower and passed out in bed.
Well worth the money.”
Matt responded: “You made me smile…that’s our girl no doubt.”
Day two, the other kids realized what 2 1/2 hours of soccer meant and they were more apt to playing. The coaches were fantastic, teaching them skills along with playing games – a perfect blend. They’d do simple drills where they’d kick the ball to knock over cones, then they’d play a game involving them to steal soccer balls from a sleeping dragon before it awoke. Then they’d do drills with passing and scoring, then another fun game. It was always interesting – always fun.
Yesterday, they were down to 5 kids because two had strep throat. The one mom informed us that her two kids wouldn’t be at camp today because they were going to be on a plane to California. The other moms said they’d be there, so I planned on showing up, because today was the big pizza party and bouncy house extravaganza.
I got an email last night from Ande saying that during the camp time, there was going to be Happy Feet going on and Mae and Luca were more than welcome to participate in it, free of charge.
So this morning, my mom dropped Claire off while I was at the gym. When I got there a half hour later, Claire was in the bouncy house – and the only kid who showed up.
At first, I felt bad, thinking I was wasting Coach Anthony’s time by having him watch her bounce in a bounce house, but he was having a great time himself.
And here is how today broke down:
I showed up and saw Claire bouncing in the bounce house. Coach Anthony immediately called Luca and Mae over to join Claire and play.
Mae refused to do Happy Feet because she wanted to bounce.
Luca’s age group then had their Happy Feet session and he happily went, listened and did a fantastic job. (Which, yay! Luca likes it! But boo! Now I have to take him to it on a scheduled basis.)
Then they all bounced in the bounce house some more.
How long did they bounce? TWO HOURS, PEOPLE. Two! They were sweaty, red faced and full of smiles.
I chatted the entire time with Coach Anthony. He is a really awesome guy. Maybe two or three years younger than me and clearly loves his job.
He told me that he thinks Claire could easily contend to play with the 7 year olds. He thinks she has a really good shot, in fact. He told me that her skills were very good but more importantly, she asked questions. Appropriate questions and then when she got her answer, she tried to do what she learned. He said all good signs. Plus, he said, “She has endurance for days and the heart to do it. That alone is going to work out for her.”
After the bounce house, Coach Anthony served all my kids pizza and carrot sticks and sat with them and we talked hockey.
He didn’t care that Claire was the only paying client. He had a great time all week and was glad that he still got to sit and eat pizza with a bunch of kids (because that’s what I have, a bunch of kids) and even chat with an adult.
When noon rolled around, I told the kids it was time to go and Claire asked Coach Anthony if she’d see him tomorrow. I told her that today was the last day, but next camp, she’ll be in. Coach Anthony said, “You hear that Claire? This isn’t the end. You’ll be seeing me again!”
And that’s the truth. It was money very, very well spent.
People of Pittsburgh, listen to me! If you have kids, you need this in their lives. I am so impressed with everything. I have not one disappointment whatsoever.
And I look forward to next time.