Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Growing Up and Away From Sports

There comes a time when one realizes his or her sports career is coming to an end. It is a depressing time. It was for me.

My youth sports career was limited by my lack of focus. I played soccer and basketball and baseball and tennis and golf. I did not play any of these sports at a high level. I didn't even know that there were higher levels above town leagues. And I guess my parents were not too eager to find out about them either.

In 9th grade, my best days of baseball were behind me and I had fallen behind in soccer to players who knew that there was another level. Additionally, I was not tall enough for basketball and did not have the great ball handling skills to make it as a guard. At the time, there were no HS golf teams, so playing competitively did not cross my mind. That left tennis. I was really good at tennis, but it was not my passion. I decided to tryout for the tennis team. My high school was highly ranked, so I knew that it was not going to be an easy team to make. My dad belonged to a tennis club, so we played a couple of times a week in the mornings to prepare. He also invested in some lessons for me. When tryouts came around, I thought that I was ready. Unfortunately, the coaching staff did not. Very few freshman made the team and I was not one of the chosen few.

I immediately called the baseball coach and asked if it was to late to tryout for the baseball team. He allowed me to join in the later rounds of the tryouts, but I realized he was not paying any attention to me. When he posted the cut list, I saw my name. I wallowed in self-pity for the entire season. It was the first season that I did not have a sport to play. I didn't even pick up a racquet that season to play for fun. In fact, I never picked up a racquet to play competitively ever again.

Luckily, there was a new sport emerging, lacrosse. Few kids had played the sport growing up so I was not too far behind. My lax friends encouraged me to play. I picked up the game very quickly and found my passion. I made the JV team and eventually played on the varsity team. The game made me much much tougher. The game made me much more fit. And most importantly, the game gave me confidence and not just on the lax field. If I had all of these qualities before, I could have made the squads in any of the other sports I had played previously.

My son is going through a similar cycle and this fall is the first fall that he did not have fall ball baseball or golf or basketball. He was the last freshman cut from the golf team despite playing well. His baseball team broke up so he tried out for 4 club teams. He did not make any of the teams, his lingering arm problems finally caught up to him.

He felt the same way I did when I was in 9th grade.

The Main Point

I gave up on tennis after my setback, I will not let Nic give up on golf. Looking back, he wished that he had dropped baseball before last year to concentrate on golf. His friends that made their teams had played all spring and summer long to prepare for golf, Nic only played the three weeks between the end of baseball and the golf tryouts.

Then this fall he did what I did. He found a new sport. He found boys volleyball. He joined a pre-season club team and learned the game. He fell in love with it. He signed up for tryouts for the club season, but a stress fracture in his back have derailed those plans for now. Hopefully he can get back to playing so he can prepare for the HS season.

Regardless, there comes a time when competitive sports stop and real life begins. Luckily, real life includes intramural sports and co-ed adult leagues.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I swear I didn't make my daughter play injured.

I do not miss many games at all. I am lucky to have a job that I can manage my own schedule fairly easily.

I do not miss my kid's games because I do not want to miss the action. I want to be there when my daughter sinks a three at the buzzer or when my son makes a birdie on 18 to win a tournament. I want to see their faces when it happens. I want them to see my proud reactions too. I also want to be there just in case something happens. If they get injured, I want to be there to help comfort them. We all know that injuries are a part of youth sports. It is just a question of when, where and how bad.

I missed a game on Sunday.

I dropped CC off at soccer tryouts for the Ohio South Olympic Development Program. I normally stay to watch, but I had to leave to get to the Cincinnati Bengals / NY Giants game. 

I'm a huge Giants fan, so my wife bought me the NFL tickets for my birthday. What she did not know when she made the purchase in September was that my daughter would be competing in the finals of the 6th grade CYO Girl's Basketball Cincinnati Division I Championship. When I realized the conflict, I did not want go to the football game. I would much rather watch my daughter play. I contemplated not going to the NFL game, but the tickets were very expensive. I could have sold the tickets on StubHub, but it was going to be my wife's and son's first NFL game. They were very excited to go. I was torn, but had to go to the Giants game.

During soccer tryouts, CC got hurt in a freak accident. She was on the sidelines next to the goal awaiting her chance to get into the game. The coaching staff was rotating three goalies in each goal. CC was stretching and talking to the other goalie while the other girls on the field were showcasing their skills for the evaluators. CC was not really paying attention to the game. 

A striker in the game took aim at the goal and fired a really hard shot. The ball missed the goal and hit the very top of CC's foot. She was relaxed and not expecting the impact, so her  ankle snapped back. It hurt a lot, but CC did not want anyone to know. ODP Goalies need to be tough. 

She hopped up to walk it off and get the ball that ended up 20 yards behind her. She was trying desperately not limp. Just as she retrieved the ball, the tryout ended. Luckily, she did have to get back in the goal with a bum ankle. 

After the training session was complete, she found her club teammates and her ride home.  She arrived home to an empty house. She iced her ankle which was now really swollen. She then found an ankle brace, tied it on tight and awaited her ride to basketball. She was not going to miss the Championship basketball game. 

A basketball teammate picked her up and took her to the game. She participated in warm ups trying not to limp. She did not want the coaches to bench her. She ended up playing the entire first quarter and the first half of the second quarter before she got a break. During her down time at he end of the second quarter and half time, the ankle swelled more. She tried to play in the third quarter, but could not play at her normal frenzied pace. She sat out the rest of the game unable to take another step. 

CC's team went on to win the Cincinnati City Championship and ended the season undefeated with a 26-0 record.

We arrived after the game. As soon as she saw us, she started to cry. We knew she was hurt because we got a text telling us that she sprained her ankle. We were not expecting it to be too bad. We took her sock and shoe off. It did not look very good at all. 

This morning, she could not walk. We took her for an X-ray. The X-ray was negative. The doctor was concerned about the ligaments on the top of her foot, so he gave her a boot to wear for a week. We will go for a follow-up next week.

The Main Point

Some parents push their kids to play even when they are hurting. Some kids push themselves.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Youth Soccer: How to Make an ODP Team

I'm back after a short vacation from blogging. Work has been very busy so I needed to take a hiatus.

Last year, my daughter, CC, was planning on participating in ODP (Olympic Development Program). I described the ODP program and process in a detailed post at that time. When sign ups came around last year, however, CC decided to pass. She who was burned out from all the sports she was playing and wanted a break.

One of her goalie friends did not skip the program, made the district team and got to go a regional overnight camp. My daughter was very happy for her friend and secretly wished that she had gone on the journey with her. When sign ups came around this year she did not hesitate to signup.

The process started with fall training / tryouts. The tryouts / training take place over two weekends in November (outdoors) and two weekends in December (indoors). The first weekend is complete. Prior to the first session, CC was a bit nervous. I reminded her that the trainer she loves would be there and that her friend would be there to. She was not nervous about trying out, she just wanted a friend to be there.

When she showed up there were 24 goalies vying to make 5 teams (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002). My daughter is a 2000. By the way, ODP in Ohio goes by calendar year, not school year to determine the rosters. Unfortunately, there were 11 girls in the 2000 class vying for the district team and CC was by far the smallest.

CC has come to expect being the smallest player, so she did not hesitate at all. Luckily, she was very comfortable and familiar with the drills because her club trainer was also the ODP trainer too.

The sessions consisted of 1 hour of training / instruction and 45 minutes of scrimmages with the other 2000 team players who are competing to be field players.

CC is number 161 to the far right

The Main Point

CC is small (11 percentile of weight and 40% percentile), but she is in the upper percentile for confidence and guts per pound. I am very proud of her. CC is not expecting to make the team this year, she is participating in the tryouts / training to get experience and get some additional training.



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