MY DAUGHTER SCORES a hat-trick in a soccer game. Girl on the other teams says to her, “You’re gonna need those goals.” My daughter wants to know, “Was that girl being mean to me?” How do you explain trash talk to a seven-year-old? Or that her best teammate from last year was “poached” by a rival coach who’s trying to make a seven-year-old girls super-team?
For three years in a row my son’s club soccer team has been dismantled by parents not satisfied with the coach, the players, the league, or all of the above. Each year we start from scratch.
Do we go with a rec team or a club team? Premier or Select? Does he play his age or play up? A traveling team or local team? Sanctioned by US Youth Soccer or US Club Soccer? Indoor in the winter or futsal? A team that practices near home or one that practices in Coeur d’Alene? Should he be a Scottie, a Breaker, a Shadow, a Cobra, a Puma, or join simple-sounding FC Spokane? (Formerly River City).
When I began playing soccer in Spokane there was only one game in town: SYSA. I started in the mid-seventies and some of my teammates and I played together for ten years or more, including high school. Today new leagues seem to form all the time. They splinter, they merge. They re-splinter. Today some club teams even forbid their players from playing high school soccer.
Our family loves the outdoors. We love hiking, camping, biking, paddling, and even climbing when we can. But we also love soccer. I want to give my kids a chance to experience team sports and individual outdoor sports, but sometimes it seems easier to rebuild a bottom bracket than figure out what soccer team they should be on.
When all else fails we follow coaches we like. If they change teams we do too. If they change leagues, we do too. Even if it means games in Cheney and practices in Idaho. But I sure wish it were simpler. I wish higher level Spokane teams played each other more often so there was less travelling to do. And I wish there were less complaints about coaching style, less arguments with the refs, and less concerns about future soccer scholarships. When all else really fails we can always hike, bike, or camp whenever we want to. We don’t need a club for that.
JON SNYDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
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