The Sisterhood is a place to bring your cup of coffee to. Heck, bring the whole pot :). Sit down, relax, and fall in for a while. No divas or meanies allowed. It's about boy brain, kiddos, food, one crazy labrador, autism and a cat in recovery from a back tire incident. Oh the places you'll go :)

The Winning Loss: Beyond The Black and White

on November 5, 2012

Until Saturday, it had been a good year for my boy.  He has become the goalie king.  No doubt he has worked hard, been bruised up, shed some blood, never complained and hit the ground hard on more than one occasion diving for the ball and proving his skills.  He has earned his spot in the goalie box.

With that said, I have to be honest and say our little team has had a rough go of it.  We started out with twelve players.  One quit, one moved, one broke his arm and one dislocated his elbow and this all happened in the first half of the season.  Our team also boasts no aces on the roster.  Every boy is average to below average in their skills.  I can talk about below average because that is truly where my boy was before he found himself thrown into the goalie box for the first time after our goalie dislocated his elbow and no one else wanted the job.  But, truly, despite our disadvantages, our boys have stepped up.  They have clung together and grown as a team.  They have played without enough to field a full team every game.  They have played games where they have lost by nine goals and yet have never given up.  They have stood together and they have fought…all season long against teams that have year round ace players and against teams who have enough players to use substitutes.  We never have substitutes.  Every player plays…the entire game.  And, for the most part, even when they lose the game we are such proud parents because we see how far they have grown in their skills this year and as a team.  No parents of any team are prouder than the parents of our team.

It showed every single Saturday…until this last Saturday… when the bottom fell out.  Completely out.  So far out that there is hole showing daylight where the bottom used to be.

My son missed his first practices last week.  He was sick all week and out of school.  Mother Nature’s moodiness brought extreme changes between cold and hot weather and added in some really cool night air.  That is all it takes to send this once RSV baby back to the nebulizer and inhaler.  On Tuesday, we almost made a trip to the hospital.  He pulled it out just in time for Halloween but then relapsed on Thursday.  Friday he went to school and on Saturday he begged to get back to his team.  We all know that missing one boy can mean a forfeit or a more difficult game so our boys are loyal to the team.

All season, he has been the hard core, scrape your knees, dig up the grass and dive in hard for the ball kind of goalie so the boys expected a lot from my son.  We are in last place in the league and yet my son is scouted by club coaches.  We play hard but we still have some rough edges.  The team we played Saturday was number two in the league and they had one player, #7, who was really the entire team.  If he gets the ball, he scores.  It is that simple.  He is an all year player.  He truly rocks.  I won’t be surprised if I find him on a professional team in a few years.  He is that good.

The first quarter, my son came in with a weak performance and after #7 ran past our offense and our defense, he rolled right into the goal area and shot three above my son’s head right in a row.  They were awesome goals and you could see it in my son’s eyes how bad it felt.  It’s happened before.  We’ve failed to block goals but this was out of his league.  Even though we have been approached by club coaches and told we are the best goalie in our league, #7 was beyond us.

After a fourth goal was missed, this crazy thing happened.  Things started being said and they were not said quietly.  And they were not being said by the other team.  They were being said by my son’s teammates.

“Can’t you take him out?”

“Can’t you replace him?”

“Man, coach, we need a new goalie.”

It was heartbreaking and a few parents were vocal, loudly vocal, that this kind of talk was not okay.  Nonetheless, my boy kept failing and the comments kept flying…from his team.

At the half time, my boy traded goalie jerseys with the loudest complaint maker of all so coach told the complaining boy, “You think you can do better?  You go be goalie next quarter and you’ll see how tough it is when your defenders all shut down on you.”  And, sure enough, three goals were scored on that boy within the first three minutes and my boy, I am sure, was happy to be running the field….and out from under that pressure and scrutiny.  One more goal was scored and then the new goalie grabbed his hand in pain so he could be taken out but he was well enough to be put back in as a defender.  Sure enough and without complaint, my boy put his goalie shirt back on and went back to his box.  He knocked down or caught every goal that was attempted after that.  He even shut down #7 on every shot he tried to make.  He even put #7 into the dirt once when the scuffle erupted over an incoming ball.

It was a tough game.  Our toughest yet and it wasn’t tough because we lost.  We have lost before.  We have even lost by big numbers before.  What made this loss cringe worthy was watching the boys turn on one of their own.  My boy has been the “man” all season.  He has held his own throughout the season.  In one game, when forced by the ref and AYSO rules to remove my boy one quarter in a game, coach asked the team, “Who wants to be goalie and step in for a quarter?”  The team’s response was, “Why can’t he stay in?” I don’t blame the boys.  It’s a pressure position.  The goalie is either the hero or the scapegoat but, thankfully, my boy’s backbone is strong.

I told him sometimes what we learn in a game is beyond the score, beyond winning and losing, beyond the black and white of life.  Sometimes, what we learn is sportsmanship and loyalty and the age of ten is a good time to be schooled in their  importance.  This time, I told my son, what he did was more important than any game he will ever win in his lifetime.  No matter how unkind or defeating the words were from his team mates, he was loyal.  He never once made excuses or complained.  Not once did my son shout back or rebuke his teammates.  He stood with his team and his coach and demonstrated loyalty and sportsmanship throughout the entire game…even as his teammates were throwing him under the bus.  He did not fake injury to be pulled nor did he refuse to go back in for the fourth quarter.  Not for one moment did he shirk his responsibility to his team or to his own integrity.

I told my son I have never been prouder of him than I was on that day and during that tough game because it truly showed his own character.  Life and soccer are not about whether you win or lose but rather how you play the game.  And, hopefully, he taught his own team that a team stands together, good times and bad, but never ever does it abandon one of its own.

EVER :).


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