Tip: strap in.
Youth soccer is a wild ride.
Whether you’re a soccer kid or parent, you need to get comfortable with one constant: none of this will ever be smooth sailing.
I’ve been involved in the game for over 20 years, and let me tell you, it’s been as hard as climbing Mount Everest:
Cracking open my head and going to the emergency room for staples.
Busting my eyebrow and getting 30 stitches.
Breaking my arm.
Playing with a stress fracture in my back without knowing.
Not starting for my club team right away.
Not making ODP one year.
Not earning a college starting spot until halfway through freshman season.
Being cyber bullied by my teammates on AOL instant messenger.
Missing a State Cup Final penalty kick.
Missing a Conference College Soccer Semi-Final penalty kick.
Being punched in the face. <— more on this later in future blogs. ;-O
Despite all of the lost battles, I’ve had many victories, too:
Being leading goal-scorer every college season since freshman year.
Being conference player of the year.
Being D3 Midfielder of The Year.
Being named Outstanding Female Athlete at Johns Hopkins University.
Playing semi-professional in the USA and Brazil.
My dad always told me during the hard times, “it doesn’t matter who is around now, but who is around in the end.”
And he was sooooooooo right.
So if you’re nursing an injury now, or not getting as many minutes as you’d like, or not contributing or scoring as many goals for your team, just know it will get better.
But only if, you realize you have the power to re-write your crappy story and turn it into a more empowering, and enlightening one.
Leaning into the icky times is hard, and it’s harder to accept them, and muster up the courage to shift them into something better. Because this much I know: it sucks being sidelined.
But I urge you to turn these losses into fuel and sparks of eagerness to propel you into battle to be more resilient, more strong, and more confident than ever before. Don’t plop on a couch and wish for what should happen. Make it happen.
Feeling sorry for yourself and falling into despair are the things that will sidetrack you from creating the magic in your sports career.
So if you scrape a knee, or bruise a leg, or get knocked around, the world won’t end.
Or if you don’t start, don’t make varsity, or don’t make Academy, the zombies won’t attack you.
Alas, the journey will never be perfect. And the more you expect it to be perfect, is the moment you stop enjoying the fullness of it.
Youth soccer is not a perfect journey.
Get over yourself. This ain’t Candlyland. This ain’t Selena Gomez’s birthday bash. This ain’t Disneyworld.
This is Planet motherfreaking Earth. Have some resiliency and stop being soft. And maybe you think this isn’t being understanding of the traumas of today, but I beg to differ: it’s okay to be sad, be angry, be frustrated, but not for long. Like 10.5 seconds. Then move on.
And shift your resentful thoughts into tenacious, action-taking steps like practicing on your own, nurturing yourself, fueling your body with healthy foods, doing other hobbies that aren’t soccer related, hiring inspiring trainers to help you, or surrounding yourself with positive friends and good memories.
Truthfully, I’m preparing you to buckle up for the real world when soccer ends, and so you can handle whatever the world throws your way so you can find your power when the going gets tough.