Team WestEnders...and Team Arsenal (Riley)...and Team USA Bronze (Derek) are heading into the soccer homestretch, with two tournament weekends bookending the league's tryouts for next year's squads. First up: a return to the Seaside Classic for the U16s--3 matches in Wilmington, North Carolina (near the beach, as the clever title suggests).
Last year, Husband and Derek attended this one, as it conflicted with some makeup games that had been tacked onto the end of Riley's team's schedule at the last minute, due to rainouts during the regular season. Of special note to today's tale: when they returned from their weekend at the shore in 2015, both travelers wryly reported that the hotel room booked by the team manager--located in one of the so-called "approved venues" that you're required to patronize, according to the tournament organizers, mind you--was...um..."not up to your standards, Mom" as Derek so succinctly stated.
So this year, Derek's entire cheering section (okay, let's be honest, here: his supportive parents...and the younger brother who was dragged along arbitrarily) were available to accompany him on his eastbound journey. Husband and player set off Friday night, in order to sleep at the hotel--near the fields, to facilitate a quick and easy jaunt to the first game. Riley and I planned to make the drive on Saturday and join them sometime in the afternoon, well before the second contest at 6 p.m.
As it turned out, I'm kind of glad I missed the first round....as the summary from Husband described the conditions of the field they'd been assigned to as..."a quagmire". He went on to relate how the players had been forced to repeatedly pull their cleats out of the muck to even attempt running...passes died in puddles, a few feet after being sent...and balls that bounced sent up a spray of mud and water when they landed. In short, it sounded atrocious--and Derek's team was pummeled, score-wise, as well. Thus we discovered ourselves facing an extremely tired...and somewhat grumpy....young man (who seemed determined to recover by lying on the bed and binge-watching SportsCenter. Eh, seems perfectly reasonable to me...)
However, in a stroke of amazing luck, not only had it stopped raining by 3:00-ish, when Riley and I rolled in...but the sun broke through and burned away the clouds...leaving us with a stunning window of "it's 80 degrees and the beach is calling me". Therefore Husband, Riley and I left the lethargic teen and hightailed it to the ocean for at least a brief sand-and-surf respite. As we drove around searching for a public parking spot, I was astonished at the number of people occupying the shoreline...and even IN the water. In May. And NOT just small children who have no thermostat and are impervious to the cold, either--dozens of people of all ages romping in the waves. It was a wee bit chilly for me to completely submerge myself...but I did get in up to my knees, just to bond with the sea...or whatever.
I could have happily gone home right then, but...oh, right: another soccer game. This time, the groups seemed evenly-matched, and Derek's team played tough, but they still lost. Oh well...at least there's DINNER to cheer up an athlete who just endured a disheartening day of defeat. Husband Googled, and found a locally-owned-and-operated joint called Islands Fresh Mex Grill, where you pick your burrito, or taco, or what have you, and tell the employees everything you want them to throw on it. (Yeah, kind of like Chipotle...but without the...food-borne illness factor...) Y-U-M...
Then...sadly...we had no choice but to head back to the hotel. Oh, did I forget to mention (or, you know, "try to block out from memory") the...icky...establishment that had been reserved for us? Let's just say that Husband and Derek deemed it "worse than last year". Okay, because this is ME, let's go a little further, shall we? The whole room felt...damp. I refused to walk on the carpet without shoes because it grossed me out. The air conditioner made a completely obnoxious, ear-splitting rattling sound when it ran. The beds managed to be A) hard; B) lumpy; C) rickety to the point that they sometimes clanked when you sat or moved on them. (And if all that weren't bad enough, they were doubles, which we've already figured out aren't big enough for us to actually share with each other--we may not be particularly large people...but we do like our space.)
Suffice it to say that except for dozing off a couple of times, I didn't sleep at all on Saturday night. Right...whoo hoo--let's get up and do this thing again! Derek only had one more match on the agenda, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, they shortened it to only 20-minute halves rather than the usual 40. So it was a relatively quick and painless morning...and a nice 2-0 victory to end the tournament on a high note. Then there was nothing left to do but trek back to Chapel Hill...after a quick stop at the facilities to allow our mud-covered soccer guy to change into something a little less...filthy...and smelly.
So, this was definitely a mixed bag, in terms of weekend getaway. On the down side: a couple of games in not-fun terrain, with not-favorable results...and a decidedly less-than-stellar hospitality site. On the other hand, in the plus column: an unexpected gift of superb beach weather for a few hours...a delicious dining experience...and one last win for U16 Bronze before they go their separate ways. Now we're back home, where we can luxuriate in our own beds and rest up...oh cr...ud...tomorrow's MONDAY, isn't it? Work, and school, and tryouts, and...yikes--GOOD NIGHT, ALL!