Tuesday, August 8, 2017

High School Challenge #1: Complete

When Team WestEnders returned from our vacation, most of us got to enjoy a “buffer” Sunday--to unwind, rest, and recuperate at home before tackling the chores of the new week on Monday. The one exception was Riley. You see, I’d booked our little tropical getaway based on the availability of the room we wanted—which makes sense, right? But the schedule situation always becomes tricky at the end of July, as we’ve learned that we have to balance our precious family time with the onset of school soccer season (Yes, THAT early!)

For example, it’s a good idea for prospective players (if they are aware of it, as we are) to attend the Team Camp held on UNC’s campus, which happens in the couple of days right before tryouts. The coaches from the High School watch the participants as they perform in drills and scrimmages, essentially doing some preliminary scouting for their team selection. Thus, if you’re there, the coaches get an extra chance to take a nice long look at you in a smaller setting, before the chaos of having to put dozens of kids through the paces at tryouts.

So, as it turned out, the Team Camp started…the same Saturday night we got back from Belize…which I of course discovered AFTER planning our trip. (Not that it would have mattered anyway…because a non-negotiable Rule of Life is: Beach Trumps Sports…or maybe that’s just me…but whatever, I make the plans around here!) When I broke the news to Riley, he took it stoically…but also insisted that he’d like to make it to the Sunday and Monday sessions anyway, if that was feasible. Fortunately, I was able to correspond with the (ever-so-helpful, pleasant, and responsive) Camp Director, who advised me that in his opinion it would definitely be worth it for Riley to show up for as much of the action as he could. (And as a bonus, they’d only charge me a pro-rated fee. See, I told you he was great!)

Therefore we arrived home around 10 p.m…after an 11-hour travel odyssey and a 2-hour time zone change…for Riley to turn around and get up at 6:30 the next morning for a FULL day of soccer-palooza. (Ah, to have the boundless energy of an almost-14-year-old. Actually, he was pretty wiped, but he was also a trooper about it all—so maybe it’s his dedication we should be applauding instead…yeah, we’ll go with that…)

Then on Monday there was another 2 hours of running, kicking, and…stuff, before they ended at around 11 a.m.--freeing them to come home, eat, and collapse for the rest of the afternoon. Whew, that sounds exhausting, yeah? Good thing it was over, so they could chill for a while before the stress and exertion of their actual school tryouts, yeah? Whoops, just kidding! Tuesday morning, bright and early, Riley and his friends were on the field again, this time with the goal (Ha! Sorry…) of securing a coveted position on the JV team. That’s right, 8-10 a.m. AAAANNNND 6:30-8 p.m. for the entire week! Whoo hoo!

What we also know from past years is that the coaches at Chapel Hill High School are blessed with an embarrassment of riches in terms of athletic talent that shows up at the stadium, hoping to be chosen for one of the 20 or so open spots. It understandably requires significant time and effort to evaluate each and every player and decide whether or not they fit into the big picture of the 2017 JV or Varsity team. I can’t even imagine how the process feels to a young athlete, out there working their buns off on the pitch and wondering how they’re doing…but even though I’m not putting in the physical effort, as a parent, it’s still emotionally grueling as your kid goes through it, let me tell ya!

Riley came home after each training tired, dripping, and hungry, but pretty positive about how things were going—although he didn’t seem to have a whole lot of information to share about, you know, those pesky little things called “details”. (Teenagers…what can ya do?) One funny story he did relay: at one point he revealed to the Head Coach that he’s Derek’s sibling…which apparently made its way around to the Upperclassmen…leading to Riley irrevocably being dubbed “D-money’s brother”. (Oh, boy…maybe he’ll get his own nickname someday? It could have been worse, I suppose—at least Derek is remembered and well-liked!)

Anyway, he first time he actually had anything IMPORTANT to report was Wednesday night, when he informed us that he’s survived the first cuts (as did all of his pals—extra yippee!). We were thrilled for him, naturally…but even more so because this gave us hope…dare we even allow ourselves to dream that the coaches would make their final selections by Friday, instead of dragging this out for 2 or even three weeks, as has been known to happen in the past?

In this case the answer was: YES, they did wrap this whole shebang by announcing the rosters on Friday morning after practice…and Riley texted me (very nonchalantly, I thought) that he’d made the JV team. Yaaaayyyy! Also great: his buddies from his club squad also pulled through, so he’ll be playing with lots of people he knows, and with whom he already shares a soccer bond. Best of all, besides obviously congratulating him on his achievement, we, his loving family, can take a moment to be 1) extremely proud of his all-out effort and perseverance…and 2) incredibly relieved that the ordeal is over!

And we’re also looking forward to dialing it back a bit—let’s say, to reasonable one-a-day workouts—not to mention a full season of upcoming matches, local rivalries, and whatnot. Go, Tigers!

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