Monday, 15 July 2013

Tournament weekends

Out-of-town tournaments are a new experience for our family since our eldest started playing rep soccer this year.

Days of packing and planning and prep, insanely early mornings, long road trips to unmappable fields in the middle of nowhere. Warm-ups and practices scheduled just after sunrise on fields still slippery-wet with morning dew, lugging folding chairs and umbrellas and cooler bags and team swag across the inevitable miles of walking paths between the parking lot and field, hour after hour sitting field-side in the blazing sun or pouring rain, last-minute schedule and roster changes, uniform and equipment changes on the fly, endless Tim Hortons runs.

Though we've been playing together for most of a year now, these tournament weekends have brought us much closer as a team - coaches, players and parents. Those hours spent field-side cheering on our own and each other's boys, those big, noisy breakfasts out and lunchtime pints on a patio when there's a break between games, those late afternoons poolside and big team dinners back at the hotel, those hours and hours spent together that make us realize we're no longer idle acquaintances united only by our kids' common interest, but we've actually become friends.

It really is like a second family, this team of players and parents and poor long-suffering siblings. Everyone knows each other's kids' names and what's going on in each other's lives. The boys on the field are buddies, their brothers and sisters on the sidelines are friends. As a parent, there's nothing quite like the feeling of cheering your child on and hearing another parent down the line call him out by name and cheer with the same pride you hear in your own voice.

I love watching my boy play. I love watching him learn, I love watching him work and push himself, I love watching him try new things and fail and try again and again. I love how proud he is of himself when he finally masters a new skill or trick or play he's been working on. I love watching him play.

And there's something about those tournament weekends, that coming together as a team family, that's very different from a regular practice or game and makes the experience even more special for all of us.

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