Schools Out

We survived another school year.  Survived Anna in high school. Survived Luke being in Middle School. It was a year filled with ups and a couple downs, but all in all if was a pretty great school year.

Anna started High School. But before school actually started, high school swim started.  And that involved swimming for her Dad.  North HS had a fire, so we were not able to practice at our own pool for the entire month of August.  For the past three years I drove Anna to school, this year Michelle got the privledge.

Luke started Middle School and had a little up hill battle meeting new friends since most were going to a different Middle School because of redistricting of our area.  He also made it on a Select Soccer team that started practicing in the fall.

We made it through Anna’s first Homecoming, my Mom passing away, Michelle getting yet another new boss at work, Anna swimming at her first WIAA Sectional, me taking over the Men’s program at North for swimming, a couple vacations to here and there (most notably an awesome trip to Rosemary Beach during Spring Break with the Mollet’s), Luke being swimmer of the week in January, Anna making her first 2 state cuts for club Swimming, the Badgers making it to the Final 4, Luke participating in forensics at school and being in three plays at WCAP and really finding his inner voice, Anna playing goalie and getting kicked in the eye.

Wow!  A full year.  And lets not forget school work.  Both kids are doing exceptionally well in the classroom.

Cannot guarantee that the next couple years will go this smooth, but there are not three other people that I would rather go through this with than the those living at my house!

Pay for Play

Just read a note that the NCAA indicates that only about 2% of HS student athletes will be award athletic scholarships to play their sport in college. That got me to thinking about a wide arrange of things.

We are ending our first full season, fall and spring, with the U12 team at our local soccer club at the select level. We made the jump at the end of last spring from the park n rec league thinking that this jump would help with the boys continued passion to want to play more soccer.

We play in the lowest level of the 3 teams at that age group for this club. Personally, I have nothing against youth sports, nor the the fees associated with playing at the youth level. You have to remember that I am also part of a machine at the swim level with a local swim club.

The positives of friendships, team unity, working through challenges, great memories, learning about who you are as a person, family road trips, etc. These are all great building blocks for future endeavors in life. They are some of the greatest building blocks for me along with things I learned in Boy Scouts.

Rubiks CubeBut there are a couple major pieces to this unsolvable Rubik’s Cube that continue to make the experiences that my children are having or did have to be somewhat of a let down from a parental aspect.

The first is that the parents are out of control.  Period.

At any given game for my U12 son, there are at minimum 5 parents on the sidelines who are coaching their children from the sideline.  Minimum.  Sometimes contradicting the coach that they pay to coach the team. And if you listen to them, their kid should be playing up three levels and should be possibly on the next World Cup team that will be playing in Russia in 2018.

Had the great experience of listening to Dr. Alan Goldberg speak.  He would easily contend that although you as the parent may think it is your “right”, or think that you are helping your child, you are actually hurting and harming your child with this constant sideline coaching.  Your child needs you to support them, not coach them. When a kid makes a play on the ball and his first reaction is to look at the parent for approval, there is something wrong with the environment.

The 2nd and the other glaring piece is that the fundamentals are being over looked and it plays into the piece above.

Just sticking to soccer for now.  Winning the game and losing the game at U12’s during the regular season or playoffs is not the important piece.  Having the proper footwork, knowing where to be on the field on a throw in, having a sense on when to make a crossing pass, knowing that you cannot lift your back foot on a throw in ((who would have thought I would know this much about soccer 🙂 just saying )), knowing to watch the back side on defense on a corner kick, knowing when you are off sides on a thru ball….these are the things that need to be worked on and focused on.  Getting better at these will result in winning, but winning the game should not be the focus at the U12 level each and every week.

So what is the correct answer?

If I knew that I would reveal the answer in about 6 years after the youngest decided on his college education plans.  Paying more for your  Select Team environment is NOT the answer.  Hard work will play a part.  Dedication to your craft will play a part.  Grades in High School will play a part.  Being a Leader making others around you better will play a part.

We learned a great deal this past soccer season.  And not all of it was from what happened on the field.

Life as a Goalie Parent

Being a parent is a tough job. Let’s face it, it is harder than almost 95% of all real full time paying jobs. There are no days off. There is no pay.

But I have determined there is a tougher job. That is being the parent of a soccer goalie. I am sure that being the parent of a hockey goalie may be similar, but my recent experience is telling me that this is tougher.

And as fate would have it, Team Bedalov not only has one goalie, but two goalies.

Luke in Goal in 2007Not sure how we got to this point, but I think it started in park n rec soccer when there really were no “volunteers” to play goal, and both kids liked being on the field instead of on the sideline. Most, not all, kids see all the goals being scored on SportsCenter and not the great saves. More stories about Messi and Ronaldo. Not many stories about Shaka Hislop or Kasey Keller. In reality, not many kids want to play in goal. ((A post on on how SportCenter has wrecked the fundamentals in most major sports is a post for another time.))

During the actual game your ability to help as a parent has to be all positive because your are at the mercy of the soccer gods on what happens on the pitch. Encouragement has to be at a high level for the entire length of the game. No one yells at the mid fielder for not marking up. No one yells at the full back for not watching the back side. No one yells at the half back for bunching up and not being in the right position. They yell at the goalie for being where he/she is suppose to be, but not being able to stop a laser beam shot from 10 feet away.

Hearing parents and even the kids own teammates “talk” about your child is where it gets tough.  I keep reminding myself that one plays U12 and the other JV level in High School.  They are not playing for the World Cup, and that a loss on a Sunday afternoon really does not mean to much in the grand scheme of things.

Being a coach in swimming for so long, I try to reassure my two young goalies that they have to have swimming Sprinter mentality. You need to walk onto the field like you are walking to the blocks for the 50 freestyle. The 50 freestyle is the beast event in swimming. There is little room for error in the event because it is so short. Need to have extreme focus and each part of the race needs to be near perfect to obtain a lifetime best performance. Now for how it relates to soccer.

If your race was not great, you need to forget the pieces you did wrong, learn from them, but you need to leave them in the past because that is where they are. You give up a goal. Learn from it. Forget it. And move on to the next play.  Dwelling on the play does not fix that the kick off just started and the ball is back in play right now.

Sunday PaperIt is a tough as a parent to assist the a kid in understanding that process. We have had a great number of long slow walks back to the car after games. Some are life lessons. Some are just about how to get better. Some are just about listening. Win or Lose the walks to the car are the best part.

Luckily both kids have great coaches who recognize that our kids take the position seriously and wear there emotions on their sleeves. The coaches have talked them up a great deal this season when the chips where down, but have never let a win go straight to their heads either.