Category Archives: Sports

Tennis: A Refining Experience

I’ve watched a lot of sports in my days; soccer, basketball, baseball. Watching tennis is different…in lots of ways!

Here are a few things I’ve noticed in my short history with tennis: 

  • It’s not designed for the spectators. The best viewing for matches at the hight school is laying on the ground looking under the screens or standing backwards at the top of the bleachers over the football field. Otherwise you are looking through the mesh designed to keep the wind down and you only see slices of the action.
  • Though everyone wants the team to do well, they are really there to watch their son play his match(es). Unless they are playing doubles, your son is the only one involved in their match. And though there are others playing on the other courts, their all playing different games.
  • Meets last a long time and your son won’t be playing the whole time. There is a lot of sitting around waiting for them to play. Especially tough when you leave work early to go to a meet. There’s really no way around it. As the coach described it, coaching a tennis meet is like shoveling air.
  • Spectators at tennis are supposed to be quiet. They don’t scream at their kids on the court, cheer when their opponent misses a point, or even clap much. I have to remember this part when I’m waiting for Middle Son to play. Not saying I’m loud, but….
  • There are no referees! They enforce the rules themselves. The players call the ball in or out, long or short. They let their opponent know (with a funny little index-finger-in-the-air sign) when their serve or volley goes out. It’s all quite civilized! I’m sure there are bad calls, but I think knowing your opponent will be judging your serves and volleys is motivation to be honest.
  • The players don’t get caught up in themselves celebrating a good point. Half the time you wouldn’t be able to tell from their body language if the won the point or not. It’s really quite civilized and refined. Gentlemen on the court. And there’s lots of hand shaking!
  • But the biggest difference I’ve noticed so far…I have to pay attention to every play! There are no score boards. They call out the score each serve, but when they are three courts away and have the softest voice (not mentioning any names – Middle Son), you can’t hear what they call out. If you don’t watch every point, and keep track of every game, you have no idea who’s winning! And there are a lot of points to keep track of!

You might say tennis is making me a more refined spectator.

Just don’t count on that the next time you see me at a soccer game!


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Tennis: Learning Lessons

I’m  not taking tennis lessons, but tennis is teaching me lessons! Let me start at the beginning of the story.

A couple of months ago Middle Son told us he wanted to go out for tennis at the high school. He got out the old rackets from the garage and scrounged up some tennis balls. Then he asked us to take him to the tennis courts, on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, we didn’t make this a priority (we being his dad and me). There was always something that needed to be done around the house. I think he maybe went 2, or possibly 3 times. He did a tennis camp several summers ago at grandma & grandpa’s. That is the extent of his tennis experience.

Hubby and I both played tennis in high school. We weren’t stars by any means, but we were both on the team and still like tennis. However, we never play anymore. Oldest Son decided his freshman year he would tryout for tennis…until he found out there were 50 boys trying out for 24 spots. He too had not really played at all. The morning of try outs, he decided this was a bad idea and didn’t try out. As a parent, I was relieved. I hated the thought of him being cut. The rejection of being told you’re not good enough.

Yes, with hindsight, I see the error of my ways.

Fast forward to March. The night before try outs begin, Middle Son tells me he’s not sure what to do. He doesn’t know whether to try out or not.

The best I could come up with was, “what’s the worst that could happen?” That’s actually the way we play things out a lot…can you live with the worst case scenario?

His reply, “I’ll spend hours at try outs, not make the team and not get my AP Euro History outlines done.” I reminded him how much better he manages his time when he is really busy.  I really wasn’t sure what he would do when he got up in the morning.

He decided he would go for it.

He spent a couple of hours every day that week after school at try outs. And Friday I got the call from Hubby, “He made the team!” Middle Son offered the caveat that they didn’t cut anyone. And we’ve later figured out that they took 26 rather than the expected 24 players. We’ve also learned he was the 26th player. Humbling, but not devastating. He’s so OK with that. And he is working his way up. He  challenged and is #25 now and will be challenging someone today to try to move to #24. He has played one singles match and one doubles match. And he is 2-0. Not bad.

Lesson – It’s ok to let your kids fail. Had I let my fear of him being hurt by rejection guide his decision, he wouldn’t be playing tennis. And he would probably be doing a lot of “what if” thinking. Although this turned out positive, I think the lesson would bear true even if he didn’t make the team. You have to take risks to get what you want! I’m sure I am way behind some of you on learning this one. You would think I would have caught on years ago….guess I’m just late to the game.

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Change can be good. And it can be tough. It depends on who wants the change. How welcome it is.

And always, with time it gets easier.

This summer brought a change for us. One I didn’t see coming. And one I had a little harder time adjusting to than Middle Son who made the change.

Since he was 3 years old, this guy has had a soccer ball at his feet. Always.

I can’t begin to count how many games I have watched this boy play. 8 games a season, two seasons a year, 3 seasons of Futsol, maybe 6 seasons of indoor, throw in 4-6 tournaments a year and one season of high school soccer. I think it totals a huge part of our lives.

I’ve learned all about throw ins, goal kicks, penalty kicks, yellow cards, red cards and I can even explain off sides to you. I have washed hundreds of loads of soccer uniforms, bought dozens of cleats and shin guards, and filled thousands of water bottles.

And I truly loved watching him play. He had a passion for the game from the time he was 4 or 5 {before that he just loved to run:)}. He understood that soccer is a mental game. That it is about knowing where you are on the field and where your teammates are. He got it.

And he had an unbelievable boot. He could bend a corner kick into the goal. He was a joy to watch.

I missed a few games along the way, probably less than a dozen. Most Saturdays and Sundays I could be found on the sidelines sitting in my chair {or standing behind it if the game was too close} cheering him on. And on the way home he talked about the game. What he did well, what frustrated him, what he should have done better.

As you can see, it wasn’t just a game he played. It became a way of life for me as well. And I enjoyed it…most of the time.

And this summer, he decided he’s not going to play anymore. Things have changed. He has changed.

It’s time to move on. Time for something new. I guess if I was completely honest, maybe I did see it coming.

Its a delicate balance as a parent. I feel its my job to be my sons’ cheerleader. The one who will encourage them through everything. It’s also my job to be honest with them and create a relationship where they feel they can be honest with me. I believe that as a parent I need to allow them to draw conclusions, think things through and make decisions they are comfortable with. That can be really hard. I would much rather tell them what to do:). I would love to give them the benefit of my experience. To tell them how it will probably play out. But that wouldn’t be good for either of us.

So I serve as a sounding board. I listen. If they ask, I offer my perspective. I throw out some scenarios and point out perspectives they may not have thought about. And then I listen some more. And after they have made their decisions I check back in to see how it feels. It’s a dialogue. And I continue to be proud of the way they make decisions.

I’m excited for Middle Son! New things are on the horizon and I know they will be good things.

I’ve told younger moms I know to be careful about the teams their kids join. Those sports and the other parents cheering in the crowd will become a big part of their lives. So this is a change for me. I wasn’t ready for it. But its not about me now is it? I will stay in touch with many of the moms I’ve cheered beside. And I will move on too. Just humor me this little walk down memory lane on my way out. I took lots of pictures of what turned out to be Middle Son’s last soccer games – hadn’t taken pictures in months. God has a way of preparing us for change.

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Meet the Coaches

Tonight was Meet the Coaches night at the high school. Although Carter is our second child, this was a ‘first’ for us. We didn’t really have big expectations for the evening – probably a good thing. The evening started with a quick, and not-so-helpful, meeting in the gym with the athletic director. Then it was off to the mall where each sport had a table set up with the coach, or a team representative, waiting to answer questions. Here was the first choice; which tables to visit and in what order. It was really a no-brainer for Carter. He’s been playing soccer since he was 4 years old. He has played baseball and basketball, but soccer has always been his main sport. So the soccer table it is, but what else? For a high school freshman choosing where to fit in is a pivotal moment. They have so many opportunities and so many ways to get involved. There is a bit of a sense that he must pick wisely now because he’s setting the tone for his high school career.  He made good choices; bowling and basketball in addition to soccer. Sounds like a good mix. Of course the coaches will have plenty of choices as well. Now its all about conditioning and practice so he can get himself in the best position possible to make the teams.

So, we will add summer weights, basketball camp, soccer camp and summer soccer conditioning to Boy Scout Camp and the mission trip. The summer is shaping up to be another crazy one. At least we have options!

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