Sunday, September 10, 2006

dreading tomorrow: in which we revisit our friend the soccer season

This weekend saw the first games for both Big Brother and me of our separate '06 fall soccer seasons. His was Saturday, and he seems completely recovered from the game. Mine was today, and as happens during each Spring and Fall, I'm dreading Monday morning.

As for this crop of U8's, including of course my own, I like these kids. I always tend to like the kids on the teams, so this isn't a surprise. I've memorized their names pretty quickly. We know one of the kids already from having been on a U6 team together. And at least one other of the kids I remember past teams playing against.

Big Brother's game was fun and exciting. He seems to be getting more into the game, but he's also getting older, so I would expect him to either put more effort into it or start to decide that it isn't for him. He may also decide he likes to play during the season and mostly care less in the off season, which is where's he's been. I hadn't considered before now that I set that example. I tend to completely let it go when I'm not playing.

The opposing coach was a guy I've played a few seasons with. I'd love to play with him again in the future, though I think our team is a little player heavy at the moment for many more players. He asked at the beginning of the game not to beat his team by too much. He was of course joking. Both teams played well, but the one week of practice we missed really did seem to set us back as the other team just played together better from the beginning. My guys did get it together, but not till after the other kids took an early lead. We evened up the score and the game stayed pretty even till the very end.

The end was pretty funny if a bit tragic for my team. One of the opposing players discovered that he could kick the ball right over my defense and goalie and send shots right into our goal. My defensive player hasn't played before and was a little leery of getting in the other kid's face. After a couple of shots over his head and some encouragement, he finally started playing a little more aggressively, getting in the shooter's face and taking away his shot. But it was already late in the game, and we didn't have time to come back from that.

There's always next Saturday, and until then, I know some things to work on. At this age, getting the kids to be a little more aggressive is kind of tricky. I don't want to coach kids to be mean or dirty, but they need to learn that walking up to a kid and taking the ball away isn't going to hurt, but you can't do it from three feet away. Just as difficult is working on passing. We play AYSO and just don't get a lot of time with the kids. At this age, I don't see that as a problem, and I actually sort of dread the older ages and oftener practices. I also sort of don't. But I've got plenty of games and variations for practice. I'll have these kids passing, or maybe I'll just set them up to make better passes as they get older.

My game today turned out similarly in scoring ratio if not amount. We could easily have beaten this team given our talent. But a team has to practice together more than never to be able to work as a team during a game. That's all the space I'll give that rant/excuse. I have no idea how often our opponents practice, however little that effects my own team's performance.

One light in the day, assuming this game to be indicative of future games, was that no one got yelled at by the halftime coach, the guy that doesn't play as well as he demands of others, the guy who forces every possible reason we aren't winning to reflect back his own loudly proclaimed opinion. I'm not sure if he's moved to a different team or not, though I'm sure I look forward to disallowing him the joy of a goal.

Our opponents had some rude players, the guys that play as though there might be a scout hiding in the bushes. But we apparently now have our own as well. They had the typical fusser who wants to scream about fouls he's imagined. There was also the big guy that landed on me going for a header, which is where my pain began. I think this was the same guy slapping me in the head later, but I'm not certain.

Being landed on by a much taller and heavier player is never fun. I'm not sure exactly what's happened, but somewhere about where the thighbone is connected to the hip bone, a little flame of something wrong was brewing. Later in the game, in a freak slide tackle incident I fanned that flame to full worry inducing pain. I went off the field and rested for a couple of minutes. If I stretched the wrong direction, the pain radiated down the back of my thigh seeming more hamstring than joint related, though I'm certain it isn't the hamstring. I walked a bit before the pain subsided some, took a jog then a sprint and okayed myself to go back in. That wasn't likely the best decision, but I knew the game was nearing the end, and I wasn't done playing.

So sometime tomorrow, shortly after 8:00 most likely, I awake to the full flame of today's issue. I'm certain that whatever I've done isn't serious, but it hurts now, so it is something. Generally, the usual round of aches appear the next day, and as the season progresses, and as my body almost approaches an approximation of fitness, the Monday's aren't so horrific. But those Sundays that I actually do more damage than a kick in the knee or ball in the face, the Monday's will always be especially sad.