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Saturday Soccer

My boy making a couple of saves last night.  I haven’t seen many of his games this year because I’ve either been refereeing or watching my younger son.  It’s a shame he hasn’t had better opportunities to play goalie at a higher level.  Given the opportunity, I’m pretty sure he could be an pretty good goalie.  He has the intelligence and athleticism to do it.

Reese Save

 

 

Reese Save #2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His best save of the day … on a free kick taken from about 25 yards, over the wall and trying to drop over him, he punched out over the goal … was unfortunately too blurry to post here.

And another thing … I really do not like how WordPress has changed its picture uploader.  Why is it that improvements don’t actually improve things?

 

What is it with …

Stupid teenagers and lousy referees?

This weekend both of the Princely Midgets were to play in soccer tournaments.  However, with a “river of rain” hitting the area, the tournament has been up in the air.  Where the games were scheduled to be played, the fields are controlled by the local parks and rec district and they don’t decide to open or close the fields due to weather until the morning of.  With three games to play today and two more tomorrow, we’ve been up in the air all week.

With a patch of relatively dry weather expected last night, two games were rescheduled to last night.  The boys played at the same time at fields in the same sports complex.  I stuck around for my youngest as it developed into a very exciting game.

The game started at 6:00, in a downpour.  For the next 90 minutes the downpours came every 15 minutes or so.  My son’s team played well, but fell behind at halftime 2-0.  It should have been 1-0 as one of the goals was scored by a player who should have been called for offsides.  But that’s the way things go.

I don’t think any of us parents were expecting much in the second half.  It just didn’t look like the team had it last night.

Second half rolls around and it looked like two different teams took the field.  My son’s team scored a goal early on, added another about five minutes later, and another after another five minutes, and finally a fourth goal with about five minutes to go, while denying the other team any legitimate scoring opportunity.  The good guys won 4-2 in their first game of the tournament.  We were absolutely drenched, but it turned out to be well worth it.

What made it particularly sweet was this:

1.  The referee was absolutely horrible.  I started refereeing this year so I now understand the difficulty in calling a game.  People standing on the sideline see plays from a different angle than the referee at the center of the field.  Plus players can screen a referee from the best view of a play.  But, damn, this guy was bad.  A player from the other team throws his body at one of our players, they both fall down, our team got called for a foul.  A player on the other team slips on the wet turf, our team gets the foul.  Call after call was like this.  Our team in coming back for the win really had to overcome not just the other team, but a horrible referee.

2.  And, well, really the icing on the cake.  The African-American kid on our team was called a nigger and one of the white kids on our team was called a cracker by players from the other team.  Our players didn’t stoop to their level.  Instead they put the ball in the goal over and over again in the second half.

I’d really like to know, however, why this keeps happening.  Over and over again over the years as my kids have played sports, this kind of name-calling crap takes place on the field.  Why?  No, really, why?

A Moment

Watching my son’s game late yesterday afternoon, I got to watch the beginning of the day’s sunset.  Here you go.  (I still think I need to start a photo blog devoted entirely to clouds.)

 

And, speaking of soccer, I’ll share these here as well…

Saturday Samples

Yes, it’s Sunday as I write this, but … well, I was busy yesterday.  And, there will be no pictures, for this was a day for memories unhindered by a camera’s frame.

It began early, far too early for the events of the day.  5:00.  Damn it!  I have read for years how the older you get the less sleep you need.  Personally, I believe you need just as much sleep, but your body prevents you from getting it.  Restless leg syndrome, an achy neck that produces achier shoulders, and the ol’ guy bladder that gets ready to burst far too early in the morning.  And, once I’m up, I’m not going back down again.  So, I greeted the morning at 5:00.  But, that’s OK.  Because the greens were greener, the blues were bluer, the air was crisper, the birds were chirpier.

I got the youngest Midget Prince up and we were out of the house shortly after 6:30.  We saw the sunrise through thin clouds that shot off sparks of orange and purple.  Pretty damn beautiful.  To which my son could only respond, “it’s early, it’s early, it’s early.”  My kids are, unfortunately, at that age when the idea of a seeing a sunrise is right up there with eating canned spinach and getting a root canal.  I get it.  I was there once.

We spent the next three hours serving as volunteer refereeing for the SALLY Tournament, a women’s soccer tournament that raises money for leukemia and lymphoma charities.  It was a good opportunity to spend a few hours with him and also do a good thing.  The women played well and were, for the most part, appreciative of our participation.  We received many thank you’s for being there.  But, ladies, I really cannot call offsides if you always have at least one defender drifting back too far.  It’s interesting the things I’m learning as I shift from coaching to refereeing — you see things differently.  It’s not as easy as it all looks.

I also learned this yesterday, my slowly healing groin injury may not survive refereeing.  By the end of the third game, I was struggling to walk.  There have been a handful of times over the past nine months when I have aggravated the thing and ended the day not able to walk.  You know, taking ten minutes just to go up one flight of stairs in our house can take it out of you.

After we were done refereeing at 11:00, we raced home.  I got a half hour nap in and then I was off.  Well, that and a couple of Motrin and two more in my pocket in case I needed them.  (Good news — it never got worse.)  For the thing I was more jazzed about than anything in a long time.  It’s why the greens and blues were brighter, the air cleansed my soul, and the world was my oyster.  With Guest Blogger, I was on the road to the Giants Playoff game.

We rode BART in and walked down the Embarcadero.  Getting there early enough, we stopped in a bar for a pitcher of Trumer.  If you enjoy the sudsy stuff and haven’t tried a Trumer Pils yet, you must.  I have had many “favorite” beers in my decades of enjoying the stuff.  But, this is the one.  Never off, never anything but a great, great example of a pilsner.

Beer consumed, we entered the stadium.  I got my Orange rally towel and let out a whoop.  I was there.  I’ve tried to explain here what this means, but there really are no words other than this.  I was at a Giants playoff game for the first time ever and I loved every minute of it.  Yes, the Giants lost, they reverted to the team that is relentlessly incapable of getting a two-out hit with runners on base.  It was frustrating and I wish they had won.  (has there ever been a more obvious statement?)  But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else I would have been doing yesterday.  From first pitch to last, it was just an absolute joy to be there.

Thank you, Guest Blogger for joining me and making for an incredible experience.  Good conversation, friendship, and a playoff game.

This day was a memory for me.  It’s filed away on the good, no great, side of the ledger.  When I’m old and doddery, I’ll tell my grandkids of the time I went to a Giants playoff game and they battled and battled, and the 2012 National League MVP (yes, I have no doubt, it will happen) came to the plate as the tying run in the bottom of the 9th, facing a heat-throwing reliever who reaches 100+ mphs with his pitches.  They dueled on and on (yes, I know it actually wasn’t that lengthy of an at-bat, but this is my fish story) before mighty Posey swung at Chapman’s fastest pitch yet (remember, it’s a fish story) and missed.  All the while 42,000+ fans stood on their feet and screamed and stomped their feet and waved their towels and begged and prayed for a miracle.  And, alas, as happens so many times, the baseball gods said “not this time.”

But, the great thing about baseball … there is always, always tomorrow.

The Things not on my Bucket List

This weekend was a time of first — and the type of  first not on my bucket list.  These things were small steps in a direction I can’t really describe, but I’ll try.

A dozen years ago, I knew virtually nothing about soccer.  In the years since, I haven’t spent a year without coaching one or (in most years) both of my sons in soccer.  Always an assistant, never in charge, because of my lack of knowledge.  But, all of those years have added up and I think I know a lot about the game now.  And, this year is the first since my oldest first ran out on the field to play bunch ball that I am no longer a coach.

Let me say it here now … HALLELUJAH!!!

Let me also be very clear.  There is probably nothing that makes me happier as a parent than to see my boys playing the sports they love and doing well at it. (well, except for my youngest’s hugs — that still are offered frequently, even at the age of 14)  But, coaching?  I don’t need it anymore.  I’m more than happy to be a spectator, taking pictures, and cheering them on without obligation to the other kids on the team, their parents, and well, pretty much everything else.  I’m not responsible any more!!! Except for my own enjoyment of watching my kids play and have fun doing it.
So, what am I doing now?  What did I do for the first time this week?  Referee soccer games … for real, cash money.  I referee’d two U9 games (for the uninitiated, that means 8-year-olds) yesterday.  It’s somewhat nervewracking, but, at the same time, an interesting and different way to experience the game.  The best thing about that age is how much fun the kids are having and how few issues they are — parents and coaches relatively under control and kids who are just so cute while they’re playing.  The goalie who held up her hand and smiled every time she made a save.  The little girl who got knocked down and was crying incredible tears, but refused to come out of the game.  The neverending effort and drive to play this game they don’t quite understand yet.

I referee’d soccer for the first time.  I hope there are many more such games in the future … even if there are times when it’s not quite as enjoyable.
And, today, I played bocce ball.  What an incredible, almost zen-like experience.  I plan on joining the East Sac Bocce Ball Club so I can get access to the bocce ball courts and practice.  I can see myself playing on my own, or with a friend, and just enjoying the peacefulness of the sport.

Just thought of another new thing — a couple of weeks ago — yoga.  Yoga and bocce ball have things in common.  There’s this calmness to them that, I think, is critical to my moving forward.

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