Wyatt played soccer again this fall, and unlike his spring season that was virtually wiped out by a broken collarbone, this time he actually played most of the season. It's a city team that's set up for the 4-6 year old crowd and his spring team seemed to be full of older kids but not so this fall! It was a team full of younger, newer players and it was entertaining in every possible way. Jeff actually ended up being one of the assistant coaches and our head coach was awesome.
Each practice and game began with warm-ups and this was easily my favorite part - kids aren't born knowing how to do jumping jacks and if you're looking for cheap entertainment, ask a group of preschoolers to do some. After that, they ran a few laps around the field and were always supposed to stay in line. Wyatt had a little issue with that directive, not that he wasn't happy to stay in line but he just wasn't really motivated to keep up. He'd hang for about the first quarter lap and then he was just too busy having fun to worry about keeping up. Inevitably he'd be lapped by the three-quarter mark and would come loping in last with a giant grin on his face. Something like this:
As a general rule, no one keeps score of these games. The kids might have a general idea of how they're doing, but there's no official winner or loser. The teams divvy up and split between two fields so everyone plays almost the whole time. There's always someone waiting to sub in on each field, but only one or two kids instead of five or six. That also means that there's a coach from each team on each field. I had as much fun watching Jeff figure out how to
herd cats coach the kids as I did watching my own son play. My favorite moments from the season were when Jeff finally, in a slight bit of frustration, picked up a child and placed him in the correct place on the field. In his defense, he'd told the kid three or four times where he needed to stand and had been patiently pointing. It just wasn't working. There was also a game in which we had an extra player on the field for a few minutes. The coach's wife and I were both hollering, trying to get Jeff's attention, but he didn't hear us. Eventually he noticed and one of the kids returned to the sidelines. Finally, in the last game of the season, Wyatt was waiting his turn on the sideline but just couldn't help himself - twice - and assisted his team from the sides by kicking the ball back in. The opposing coach didn't notice but ours did and whistled for play to stop. Wyatt just smiled.
Natalie, of course, was a bit of a loose cannon during these games. She's pretty willing to cheer for the team for a little while but loses interest fairly quickly. It doesn't help that there's a park on site. We had a rule that we could go the park during practice but during games we were there to watch the games. I felt kind of mean but honestly, I would've spent the entire season spotting Natalie on the giant old-school slide instead of seeing Wyatt play soccer. It's character-building for her, right? And I love that when it's Nat's turn to play she'll be all over it. How do I know? Well, by about the third game of the season she took a turn lecturing Wyatt on our way to the game. Jeff and I were reminding him to listen to Coach Tony, be a team player, go to the ball, etc. and Natalie piped up with, "and kick it in the goal, Wyatt." Right, girl, kick it in the goal. It helped that Grandpa and Grandma made the trip over for a few games and provided ample entertainment for our girl.
The end of every game brought Wyatt's favorite part: the high five's. He loved lining up and saying, "good game" fifteen times before huddling up with his own team to hear Coach's end of game pep talk.
|I like that whatever Jeff's saying is fully captivating Wyatt.|
After the final game, Coach gathered all the kids and said nice things about them all before giving them each a big medal. He called each player up one by one to put it around their neck and all the kids just walked up, got their medal and sat down. But then came Wyatt, who acted as though he'd done this before or had, at the very least, been coached to perform. I assure you neither is the case. I'm not sure how he came to the decision to do it but when his turn arrived, he marched forward, turned to face the crowd and grinned from ear to ear while Coach said his nice things and placed the medal around his neck. Such a ham.
We've already been told that baseball is the big thing in Sumter but they have a beautiful new city soccer complex, so we'll just have to see what the spring holds for us and for Wyatt. He definitely enjoys soccer and wants to keep playing but he has also asked to start practicing his catching, "because my catching isn't that good and I need to get ready for baseball in South Carolina." Got to love a kid who's flexible to what's available. We're so glad this worked out here - it was a great way to get involved a little in the community!