These past few weeks have been hectic for our family. Nothing serious of course, just a motley mix of pure adrenaline, excitement, anxiety and nervousness.
My daughter has been playing soccer since kindergarten, at the young age of five years old. When she started, it was more for something to do without being too competitive, but healthy at the same time.
Fast forward to five years later, and that has all changed dramatically.
Her intermediate soccer season just ended literally less than a week ago, and even though we were so ready to hang up her cleats for the summer, we knew that couldn’t happen just yet. Due to the Arsenal tryouts for the upcoming U11 season, she had to be in full gear and practice mode.
At her age, this shouldn’t be a competitive, scary time, but about playing with friends on play dates and swimming, climbing trees and monkey bars. But with sports—even at such a young age—it becomes a blur in our daily lives. She knew it was something she wanted to do since she started playing at the intermediate level, so naturally we supported her venture 100%. She loved going out on the soccer field 3 times a week and learning new moves, new plays, and scoring goals, so the fact that she told us she wanted to take it a step further and tryout for Arsenal, was not a surprise for either of us.
We were indifferent about it at first. We had always heard how competitive (and expensive) playing soccer at the Arsenal level would be, and we were very apprehensive to go along with this knowing what lies up ahead. But how do you tell your child who loves and breathes soccer that she can’t try out?
You don’t. You let her be the judge and you let her make the decision for herself.
Watching her give 110% at every try out, and seeing how tired and anxious she was, helped us make this decision for her. We knew it’s what she wanted more than anything at this point in her life.
Then the next question comes to our mind—what if she doesn’t make a team? How do we handle that disappointment? We played it by ear, and allowed her to try her hardest at every tryout and camp and see how things played out regardless of the outcome.
After each tryout, she’d walk off the field after 2 hours in the sun with the look of pure exhaustion and sweat running down her face—regardless, she was still motivated and positive about her experience.
On the evening of the last tryout, her intermediate team hosted an end-of-season pool party at the Country Club. It was sublime. The clouds were scattered, but the warmth in the air was perfect for a day filled with swimming and congratulatory cake. Disappointed that my daughter hadn’t heard from the highest, most coveted team—the Gold team—she wasn’t sure how to feel considering two of her teammates had already received those phone calls from the Gold coach prior to the party.
I thought to myself, "wow, they’re fast." It was only a matter of an hour or two after the tryouts ended once these girls received their much anticipated phone calls.
At this point, without my daughter realizing, I was nervous for her. Worried that she wouldn’t make any of the teams knowing she worked so hard for three long, laborious days in hopes of becoming a player for the 'prestigious' Arsenal Soccer Team. The anticipation was killing me.
My husband and I felt the need to intervene and explain to her that regardless of the outcome, she was a talented and hard-working soccer player. She WILL make a team, we just didn’t know which one.
After a long tiresome day, my daughter was anxious to wind down and relax for the evening, until the phone rang. It was 8:00 and when I looked at the caller ID, I knew.
This was the phone call we’ve been waiting for.
I answered. She immediately announced she was the Arsenal coach and asked to speak with my daughter.
I handed the phone to my daughter, and to her bewilderment, was invited to play for the Arsenal Royal team. For us, this was nothing shy of excitement and glee. Her hard work had paid off. Watching my daughter’s enthusiasm while she was on the phone proved to us that this was it. Soccer was HER sport.
So even though the anxiety and butterflies were filled in her stomach throughout the day, it ended with a 10 year-old girl beaming with pride and happiness.
Congratulations, Emma. We’re proud of you!
Soccer is over for the summer, so for now, we'll hang up her cleats and enjoy the summer with pool-filled days and sunshine ahead.
Time for tennis...