Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Youth Soccer: Fighting for a Position

My daughter, CC, is in a fight for a starting position for the first time in her soccer career. She has been a standout soccer player since she was 6 years old. Recently, she was selected to the Ohio State Pool ODP team as a goalie after making it through 3 tryout phases. That does not seem to matter as the club season comes to an end.

During her 12 years, she has made every team she has ever tried out for and she always seems to be selected to play key positions. Outside of sports, she has been a star too. Life has been very easy for my little girl.

Has life been too easy? Would CC fold under pressure and quit or fight to overcome adversity when she needs to. I really had no idea, but I am in the process of finding out.

CC has been the starting goalie of her select team for 2 full years now. CC is very small compared to other players who have already matured. She is the smallest goalie in the top regional league in which she competes. The ODP trainers were not concerned about her size when they selected her for the state pool team, but I know that the coach of our team would like CC to play bigger. I read that as code for she would prefer a bigger goalie.

4 weeks ago, CC injured her shoulder in a game. CC thought it was a bruise. She complained about it hurting all week, but continued to practice and play. The pain did not subside, so we decided make an appointment to see an orthopedic doctor. CC did not want to go because she thought that they would shut her down for the last three weeks of the season. We did not want to risk a serious injury so we insisted.

CC was diagnosed with a slight shoulder separation and severe tendonitis. Surprisingly, the doctor told CC that she could continue to play out the remainder of the season if she could take the pain. He said there is no structural damage so the condition will not get any worse. He then told her that it won't get any better either until she rests it for 3 weeks and completes some physical therapy.

The following weekend, CC decided to rest for 2 games so that she could be ready for an important big game against the best team in the city the following Monday. Nothing was going to keep her out of that game, except rain which postponed the contest.

The coach called up the B team goalie, who is a big strong and athletic girl. The new goalie played well in the two games CC rested. After those games, the coach asked the B team goalie to join the team for the rest of the season. The coach wanted a backup just in case CC's shoulder acted up and she admitted to me that she wanted to test the new option out for next year and perhaps carry two goalies. CC was in a battle.

The Main Point

I talked to CC about the situation. I told her that it was actually a good situation. After I said that, she looked at me with a confused look. I told her that life has been too easy so far and it unrealistic to think that you will go through life without challenges. I told her that she had two choices, quit or fight for your position. I know that she has been considering concentrating on Volleyball, so I did not know what she would do. I was not going to force her to play if she did not have the heart for it. She sat in silence for a few minutes and then I asked her what she wanted to do. She said she is not giving up. We talked about what she needed to do to earn the respect of the coach again.

CC started an important game last Sunday. She played very well in the first half and made several key saves. She got some ice for her shoulder and prepared to sit on the bench for the last half, however, the coach sent CC out to start the second half. CC made this key save late in a 0-0 game on Sunday. The coach was pleased with CC. She came up big, she played big.

Kids learn more through adversity then they do through triumph.


  1. I've commented several times as it seems your 12 y.o and mine seem to have a lot of similarities (although mine is one of the tall ones). My goalie just experienced try-outs for her Jr. ECNL team last week. There had been no discussions about dropping to the B team, and she has proved at GK training to be the best in the club. Then our clubs biggest rival, aother ECNL club's goalie showed up to our tryouts. K ended up keeping her spot, but it was definitely a wake up call to her. Next yr, when the tryouts are for the actual ECNL team, there will be even more keepers gunning for her. She is already discussing summer workout plans and which keeper camps are going to be the best for her.

    1. The challenge will make your daughter and mine stronger and better. I have seen kids unchallenged until they get to HS, then they fold like a house of cards because they have never had to play with confidence in an unsure situation.

      I am glad your daughter rose up to the challenge. Congrats. In which state does your daughter compete?

    2. We are in South Texas, so plenty of quality players vying for the coveted spots. Good luck to CC with her fight.

  2. Curious how/why your daughter picked goalie as her position. She sounds a good athlete that could play other positions. Goalie strikes me as one of the few soccer positions where size is a factor.

    1. My daughter was a striker / goalie when she was younger. She was an outstanding striker - in fact she led her team in goals. She has athletic enduced asthma - as the fields got larger as she moved from 6v6 to 8v8 to 11v11. She could not handle the running - the game became less fun. So she opted to stay in the goal full time. The coach was thrilled because goalies are not easy to find. Thanks for asking.

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