Years ago, my lovely red headed wife was pregnant with Snowflake #2. Her body’s desire to savor the pregnancy pressed me into duty at the Mommy and Me class Snowflake #1 had been enrolled in. One morning after class I was approached by the instructor.
“I think [Snowflake]’s a born leader,” she declared.
I took the apparent compliment in stride. Apparently the instructor was unaware we’d already signed up for the next semester.
Fast forward six years and I’m watching the “Right Foot of Rockville™️” move her teammates around the soccer field in a way I wish she wouldn’t. It’s not that she doesn’t have an uncanny understanding of what she’s doing. It’s simply that I wish she wouldn’t do it. I’m the coach and positioning players is my job. It also seems less bossy when I do it.
(And yes, I’m trademarking, the “Right Foot of Rockville©️.” All other parents now need to come up with different nicknames for their children. I’m copyrighting it too, just in case that’s what I’m supposed to do to keep it for myself.)
On a day when Spring finally arrived to Maryland and many of Snowflake’s teammates were (understandably) preoccupied with putting flowers in their hair, my child remained focused on the game. I don’t believe she possesses any unparalleled athletic gifts beyond an unbelievable ability to take what she sees on television and put it into action. She was pretty young when Derek Jeter retired, but he obviously made enough of an impression for her to believe that losing can never be tolerated. The same can be said about the way she guards the opposing players in basketball. There are girls on the other side of this city who still haven’t touched a basketball.
I’d like to think coaches Archie Miller and Tom Crean would be proud.
My father and I used to debate where Mickey Mantle’s swing started from. The expression “he’s swinging from his heels” didn’t quite apply. There were others with big swings, so for Mick, it may have been his arches and it just as easily might have been his soul. Snowflake’s determination begins from this same mysterious place. If you’ve every argued with her about anything, you’d know what I’m talking about.
And on the soccer field, it can be a glory to behold.
In a game a few weeks ago, there was a prodigy on the other team who could launch rockets with her feet. I was tempted to ask to see her driver’s license, but since that’s not something 8 year olds carry, it looked like we’d have to devise other strategies to minimize her assault on our goal. On her own, Snowflake determined that you can’t shoot if someone’s constantly stepping directly in front of you. Playing her masterful defense and adding two goals of her own, she helped our team eke out a hard fought 4-2 victory. There were plenty of superlatives to be handed out to everyone after the game, but Snowflake’s personal mandate had been on display.
You play to the whistle. Period.
Never was this better illustrated than a hard shot she took when the other team’s thunder footed player tried to kick the ball through her midsection. It looked painful and there have been tears for far less (understandably), but this time, the ball wound up at Snowflake’s feet and she pounded it squarely into the net.
There’s really only one gear here. That the gear happens to be full speed ahead at all times can be somewhat endearing as a parent on the sidelines. Again, I just wish she’d take it a little easier on her teammates and maybe the referee. It’s something that we’ll work on.
I’m sure Aaron Judge will help. Snowflake’s already asking me why he smiles at everyone.
“Because he’s a great teammate with great sportsmanship.” I should be confident the lesson will sink in on its own. She’s picked up tips from other players we’ve seen far less often.
Yesterday’s game was tied at a goal apiece and there was a scrum in front of the goal we were attacking. Snowflake was at least 10 feet behind the crowd. She’d decided to guard against any breakaways should the ball somehow make it past the big purple wall that was our defense. And her instincts were perfect as evidenced by the fact that the ball wound up at her feet once again.
In the next instant, she strikes the ball with everything she’s got and launches it on a trajectory that’s destined to soar over the goal and well into the adjoining field… except the ball never gets there… its path suddenly develops an impossible arc as the ball finds the net. The goal establishes a lead that, while never entirely firm, is something we never relinquish.
David Beckham ran up out of nowhere and asked, “what the hell..?”
Yes, of course he didn’t, but it would’ve been fitting.
The Right Foot of Rockville™️ strikes again!