So this post is a bit delayed. It’s been in my head for a while; recently I was motivated to let it roll. I’ve posted a few times about my chronicles in coaching. This edition will be the next in the series.
Julia’s in 8th grade, her final year at ICS which means we are now headed down the home stretch of this adventure. The fast-approaching milestone was crystallized in one succinct emotion piercing phrase last August. I’d heard the phrase dozens if not hundreds of times over the past seven years. This time though when I heard it through the twilight, it meant something completely different.
Each season I’ve enjoyed the wins, found positives in the losses and without question enjoyed every minute of the ride. When I look back on all of this, the moments I will cherish the most are those almost no one could see.
After practice, parents come and claim their player, whisking them off to finish homework or start a bath. Eventually, everyone would be claimed, and it would just be me, my kid, 6 or
8 balls and an empty soccer field. We would stay and take shots on goal, play one on one or some other type of made up game. About the time the sun was almost gone I would announce it was time to go. Julia would object, and I would continue playing with the enthusiasm of an aging rock band cheered back on stage for another encore. This dance repeated itself a couple of times, usually well past the point of darkness.
Back in August, I was once again on a darkening soccer field at Ridgely Middle School watching Julia’s shadowy silhouette line up another shot. I called
out to announce it was time to pack up and head home. Almost immediately as if it was a rehearsed response, her voice cut through the darkness. “Nooo….. Dad….. ONE MORE…..” I’m not great with hints, but with the subtlety of Mr. Trump at a N.O.W. convention, The Universe provided a reminder of reality. As of then, we had “one more” season.
I’m well aware of the impermanence of raising kids and that times like those are numbered. I try to be mindful and not wax poetic about days gone by. Yes, the moment stopped me in my tracks and made this dad melt inside. In my world, there could not be a more direct way of saying “enjoy this!!!” Even at that moment, I knew her words were a gift. We don’t always get the notification that there is only “One More.” As I watched her in the darkness, I knew I needed to appreciate not only the time we had left on a dark soccer field but all of the random situations and great moments yet to come.
The referee will eventually blow the whistle to signify the end of our last game. I will surely be sad and would give anything to begin again with practice #1. The memories of soccer will serve as one more reminder that the clock is always running. We can’t stop it from getting dark; we can’t stop the kids from growing, but we can stay when you hear that call. With that in mind, I will try and repeat the same answer I gave that night in August ; “Yeah Julia……. One More……….”