Monday, September 8, 2014

Kickin' It (U11 Style)

Ever since Derek was a wee 6-year old munchkin (hard to imagine, I know) he played soccer for our local league in Maryland (awesomely located, oh...about a mile or so from our old house). When his brother reached first grade himself, he completed the same rite of passage by joining the team sports brigade. It became a seasonal routine: each Spring and Fall I'd log on to the website the instant I heard through the Soccer Mom grapevine that registration had opened. Then (click) review and update their saved player information data, (click) pay the registration fee, and (click) print my receipt. Easy peasy.

Well, let me just tell you that those days are O-V-E-R. Derek "aged out" of that league, anyway, as it only offers teams through 8th grade....which of course became irrelevant when we, you know, "moved".  The boys wanted to continue playing, so this Summer I researched opportunities for them to do so. How hard could it be, right? Ha! For starters, there are 3 distinct organizations in our area. If that weren't daunting enough to wade through, there are also 3 levels of play within each of them. Ay yi yi. Without any friends yet in our new location to guide us, sorting out all of these options took multiple phone calls, emails, and pages of scribbled Notes to Self.

Finally, I got it narrowed down to "I think we want Triangle United". But here comes another glitch: they don't offer Derek's age group in the Fall, since presumably so many high school kids play for their school team. (Hold that thought, to be addressed in a separate post--are you getting how complicated this all is?) For Riley, I determined that we belonged with the "Challenge" level. You see, "Recreation" seemed too...I believe the term I'm looking for is "non-competitive"? And the top tier, "Classic" involved a year-round commitment (yeah, you can stop right there...but wait, there's more...), practice at least 3 times per week, games all over the state...and out-of-state tournaments. YIKES! Basically, soccer would become the entire focal point of all four of our, how do I put this: No. Thank. You!

If we needed any more indication of how seriously they regard the Beautiful Game around here, Riley had to show up for a "tryout" before he would be allowed to join a Challenge team. As it turned out, this merely meant that he scrimmaged with other kids his age--with the Director watching-- to make sure Riley's skills were up to par with his peers in the club (not to worry, he passed the little test). So I scrambled to sign him up...which entailed downloading the paperwork, filling it out, and driving it--along with a check--to the actual office before the deadline passed. After he was added to an existing roster, we had the further (expensive, unexpected)...pleasure...of ordering him a uniform. I'm sorry, what? Yep, over $80 (with shipping) for 2 jerseys (home and away), an official pair of shorts, and Triangle United-approved green socks to wear over his shinguards. I mean, don't get me wrong, they're super-nice and all (thanks a bunch, at the expense of pre-teens...and their parents...much?) but reaaaallllly? Oh, and that didn't include the required PRACTICE T-SHIRT. (Another ten bucks...sheesh!)

Okay, I'm done griping about the cost (for now). Moving on to the enjoyable stuff: Riley had a for-fun-only, pre-season tournament last weekend--a kind of "tune-up" of 4 games in 2 days for the kids to play together and get in some extra practice time. This took place at a different location than where he normally meets for practice during the week...hmm, is this going to be the norm, I wonder? Then yesterday he had his first regularly scheduled another city entirely. (That would be "Efland", for the curious...or if you'd prefer, you may refer to it as "Elf Land" Husband insists upon doing...) Oh, we're the "away team" for this one, I get it! So it's slowly dawning on me that while I assumed I was choosing a local league for the convenience and simplicity it offered...we might be doing some "traveling" after all, this Fall. Oh well, Riley has totally bonded with his new teammates, the parents we've met and chatted with on the sidelines seem delightful...and hey, we're getting to explore our new soccer complex at a time...

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