By Laura Claverie
When our son was in middle school, he fell madly in love with soccer. It was a relatively new sport in New Orleans (yes, this was in prehistoric times). Few schools offered soccer, and there were no leagues or local camps available to help a budding soccer player advance his or her skills.
But Philip Jr. loved the sport and we wanted to support his interest. I also figured that as long as a New Orleans kid pursues athletics, he might not frequent bars as much. It was a win-win.
Papa and I sought out sleepaway camps over the summer that focused on soccer. In our enthusiasm, we once sent him to a camp at the University of Connecticut. It was perfect, except we accidentally sent him a day early, and our middle schooler arrived at an empty field, duffle bag in hand, clueless. It was not one of our finest parenting moments.
Philip went on to become a fearless and accomplished goalie. I, on the other hand, found being a mother of a goalie stressful. I once offered to start a support group for mothers of goalies but that (and my other brilliant idea of inventing a helmet for goalies) got nowhere.
We are now in our second generation of soccer jocks. Both Rylan and Amelia play for their school teams and leagues. Papa and I are back to loading up my SUV with lawn chairs, umbrellas, stadium seats, blankets, and bottled water for our weeknight and weekend schedule of soccer games. I’m back to screaming “Offsides!” when I have no idea what the heck that means and hearing my heart pound as the clock ticks down.
Our social life is once again arranged around soccer games and tournaments. We even watch hours of European soccer games on television. Anyone out there care about Manchester United? Rylan is obsessed and has two Man U tee shirts (thanks to generous friends) and now owns a few shares of stock in the team. Who knew I’d feel like the guys on Man U were part of our family?
Since soccer first entered our family life decades ago, the sport has taken off in New Orleans. There are opportunities to play at every school and league. There are local summer camps where kids can develop skills. It’s a sport that is truly part of the landscape of the city. I’ve never been athletic and was never the darling of the gym teachers. I’m klutzy and obviously missed the session when gross motor skills were handed out. But I’m okay with that. I have a family of athletes to watch and support. I am in the stands or on the side-lines to cheer on the kids and their teams and generally make a fool of myself when they make a thrilling goal or assist. As the saying goes, “Soccer is life. The rest is details.”
It’s that soccer mom thing I picked up a generation ago. It’s still there. It’s not going anywhere, and neither am I.
P.S. Last night, Rylan’s school soccer team from Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, seeded 10th in Division 4, beat Pope John Paul of Slidell, seeded #1 in Division 4 for the state championship. Both teams fought hard and had plenty of grit and determination. Bravo to them all!