Things I've Learned From My Soccer Team

CF Winn By CF Winn, 28th Aug 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Kids

Sportsmanship and Good Will is Taught...Be an Example

"When you step out onto the field to play, remember that the other team is not the enemy."

That statement has stuck with me ever since the girls from the Lindenhurst U12 FUSION soccer team and I attended the LIJSL Convention. We were there to receive our Sportsmanship Award for the Fall 2012 season, and I nudged one of the players sitting next to me and said, "We need to remind the girls of that. It's important."

I whispered to one of the biggest and strongest players on our team, but I have never seen her go out onto the field and use her size to deliberately hurt someone.

The whole team is like that...and the attitude is so obvious that we've won the Sportsmanship Award several times.

FUSION has always been a tenacious team, made up of girls who not only play with their minds and bodies, but also with their hearts.

They have a love of the game and of each other. This group knows that when they step out onto the field, they are doing it with and for their soccer "family".

In the fall, our team took first place. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy cut our season short, but up until then, FUSION was undefeated.

Congratulations to us....but...what most people don't know is that we played many of our games with only ONE sub or NONE at all.

How did that happen?

Before the season started, we had almost thirty girls at our try-outs. Another club approached us about merging...we knew that we could use some extra girls, and they were about to fold, so we agreed to help them out and try to keep as many of their players together as we could, because that's how FUSION rolls.

In the end, we decided to form two teams, the "regular" travel team that would play on Saturdays and a developmental team for Sundays...and all of the girls would have an opportunity to work with our trainer. This way, we'd keep the girls together and we'd have a pool of new players that were working constantly to sharpen their skills and eventually play on Saturdays again. No one would be "cut", and everyone would get to play soccer with their friends.

Hundreds of poems and stories have been written about "crossroads" and "turning points".

Unexpectedly, the girls U12 FUSION soccer team was faced with their first one. The developmental side was comprised of girls from our team and the other, and on Sundays, players from the travel group would rotate and fill in so we'd have enough bodies...but it was not to be.

Suddenly, the coaches/adults from the other club decided that if we didn't take their one girl we had placed on the developmental team, then we couldn't have any of their girls. This demand was placed after a few of our own parents also pulled their girls out of the sport, stating that we should have "left well enough alone" and not merged with the struggling club.

What we were left with was a skeleton of a team, BUT a core group like none I have ever encountered when I coached girls and boys basketball or in any of my years coaching soccer. We went on to have a tough, but tremendous season, taking home both the first place and sportsmanship awards for the fall of 2012.

The spring season has shaped up a little differently.

We continued to play when it got cold, going indoors for the winter season. During that time we had a few players get injured. We opened the spring season in Division 4 (up from Division 5) with my daughter in a wrist cast, followed by another injured wrist, a concussion, and some leg/foot problems.

Despite our lack of subs, we went into our games strong, and although we dominated most games, fatigue is a tough opponent, and we began losing for the first time in months. Our losses have only been by one or two goals, but for some it's hard to look at the big picture, and due to frustration, we lost a player to another team.

I wish her luck, but I feel sorry for her. Yeah, I feel sorry for her not FUSION.

Remember the big picture?

Here's my version: We have played the entire spring season with either no subs or more commonly, one or two players short. We have not lost by more than two goals. (I have seen other teams go out defeated before they start and they lose by five or six). We have dominated all of the games and had the most shots on goal with the exception of one bad day...and after what this team has struggled with, they are entitled to one bad day.

They do not go out onto the field thinking they are going to lose. They arrive early for the warm up, happy to see each other and laughing with the friends they have come to make over each season.

This situation has brought them closer to each other, forcing a protectiveness that is obvious when our sweeper literally uses her body as a shield between the opposing player and our keeper when she comes out to retrieve the ball. I am moved when I see the sweeper stretch her arms straight out to the sides, and her knees lock, daring anyone to come through her to get to either of our beloved goalies.

They show loyalty to each other every time they show up to practice and games, ready to do their best instead of giving up because things are a little tough right now.

The standings do not necessarily reflect the real game.

They go out there to play, not to hurt others or take out their frustration with our losses on anybody. They have learned to speak up for themselves when refs make a bad call, and they have discovered their own strengths and weaknesses and just what they are really made of.

We can teach them sportsmanlike behavior, but what these girls have taught me is that when you lead with heart and strength of character, a loss doesn't look like a loss anymore.

Every game that they do more, give more, and gain more skill and the ability to strategize, they win more than any score could ever reflect.

As the game goes on, even if we're losing, I smile when I listen to the other team's coaches:

"Their defense is tight. We can't get a shot in."

"That goalie is awesome. There aren't many like her out there."

"They don't even have enough players and they're not making this easy."

"Watch that player! She's got a big foot! Don't let her shoot"

"Three of our players on only one of their girls, and she's blowing right through them!"

The FUSION team does not go to war with the "enemy" when they step onto the turf. They are just a bunch of young girls getting together with their friends, to play a game that they love, to the best of their ability.

As with all setbacks and challenges, they are temporary. This will pass, and when FUSION is running on 100% again, they will be fitter, faster, smarter, and hungry for a win.

You have been warned.

On behalf of the coaches, I'd like to say thank you to the parents for allowing us time with your children. It is an honor and a privilege to be around them several days a week. I have no doubt that when they are done being some of the finest players LIJSL has ever seen, they will spread their greatness wherever their futures take them.

Have you faced your challenges with patience and a strong belief in yourself?

About the writer:

CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a hilarious group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor's office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States.


Articles, Athletes, Blogging, Blogs, Coaching, Girls, Kids, Players, Playing Fair, Self Worth, Sense Of Self, Soccer, Sports, Sportsmanship, Team, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar CF Winn
CFWinn is an award winning freelance writer of tongue-in-cheek articles.Her novella, SUKI, is hugging souls everywhere and her COFFEE BREAK SERIES will have you rolling on the floor.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
28th Aug 2013 (#)

Outstanding piece, you rock!

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author avatar Retired
28th Aug 2013 (#)

great narrative..well I used to play soccer mah way.......I used to be capitaine and after first five minutes I used to feign being hit by opposite bully and rest for 30 all I used to have 3 rests of 30 minutes long and lead my sides to win relaxing in bed on sidelines...sippin mah beer

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author avatar Retired
28th Aug 2013 (#)

and get at least two red cards issued to opposite players

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
29th Aug 2013 (#)

Indeed we have got many other things to learn from games and sports. Thanks for nice sharing..

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
30th Aug 2013 (#)

most interesting this...our beginnings reflect into the way we lead our lives...thank you CF

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author avatar Esther Thornburg
30th Aug 2013 (#)

When you think you can not win be sure to have a good time and you are ahead.

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author avatar peachpurple
9th Jun 2014 (#)

i have not join any sports yet, but seemed that you enjoyed soccer

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
9th Dec 2014 (#)

A good read about women's soccer and the sportsmanship of your team. Bravo.

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