Kicking It in a New Field: How Our Family Embraced a Year of Soccer -

Imagine a family where weekends are usually about art projects and Lego creations suddenly deciding to kick around a soccer ball for a year. That’s us! We’re your typical artsy and STEM-loving bunch, but last year, we took a wild turn and signed up Griffin and Adair for soccer at Chasco YMCA. Why? Well, why not? This isn’t just a story about soccer; it’s about us stepping out of our comfort zone and into cleats, and let me tell you, it was quite the adventure!

Why We Chose Soccer

Why soccer, of all things? Well, we figured it was time for Griffin and Adair to try something completely different. We’re all about exploring new horizons, and soccer seemed like the perfect mix of energy, teamwork, and a little bit of healthy competition. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new friends and learn some cool skills. We thought, “Why not give it a shot?” After all, life’s about trying new things, even if it means stepping way outside your usual zone.

They had played soccer a little as part of other classes and camps but this would be their first time deep diving and playing “semi” competitively.

First Impressions and Challenges

Imagine Griffin and Adair, usually more at home drawing or a coding, stepping onto the soccer field for the first time. It was a mix of excitement and “uh-oh, what now?” The first few practices were, honestly, a bit of a scramble. There were new rules to learn, new skills to master, and oh yes, figuring out which way to kick the ball. Let’s just say, those first few kicks weren’t exactly World Cup material. But that’s the fun part, right? Watching them take on this challenge, with a good dose of laughter and determination, was something special.

Surprising Aspects of Being a Sports Parent

With any new activity, trying to figure out which shoes, shin guards, and gear they would need was crazy. We didn’t need top-of-the-line gear but also did not want to have them uncomfortable, not well protected, or able to participate at the best possible level.

As parents new to the world of youth sports, there were quite a few eye-openers during our soccer year. First off, the vocal enthusiasm of sports parents caught us off guard. Soccer sidelines were a world apart from the quiet concentration of art classes or the focused atmosphere of a dance classes. The energy was infectious, though sometimes it bordered on intense!

Another surprise was the sheer unpredictability of outdoor sports schedules. Weather played a huge role, turning what we thought would be a well-planned week into a game of scheduling Tetris. Rainy days meant sudden cancellations, and sunny days were a go, go, go!

Lastly, the range of skills and abilities on the team was something to behold. It was fascinating to see how the coaches managed this diversity, nurturing the less experienced while challenging the more skilled players. This dynamic often mirrored life itself – a mix of abilities and personalities, all coming together with a common purpose. It was a learning curve for us as parents, understanding the nuances of team sports and the valuable life lessons they impart.

Embracing Sportsmanship: Growth Beyond Winning

Griffin and Adair’s soccer journey brought an essential lesson: the true spirit of sportsmanship. They learned that in sports, as in life, winning isn’t everything. Handling losses with grace and finding lessons in defeat were new challenges for them. This wasn’t just about their conduct on the field; it influenced their approach to arts and STEM too. Setbacks became less about disappointment and more about opportunities to learn and improve. Soccer taught them that success is found in effort and maintaining a positive attitude, regardless of the score.

Teamwork and Social Skills– “Show up for your team.”

“Show up for your team.” was a mantra in our house for that year. It continues to be a phrase that means “Check in and be present.” You don’t have to be the best player to do this. It just means being physically and mentally present in the game. Not just a body holding a place on the field.

One of the coolest things about Griffin and Adair playing soccer was watching them learn the value of teamwork. It’s one thing to work together on a project, but it’s another to coordinate with a whole team on a soccer field. They learned to pass the ball, support their teammates, and even cheer each other on during tough matches.

Physical Fitness and Health Benefits

Let’s talk about the physical side of things. They were more active, obviously, but we also noticed improvements in their overall fitness levels. They seemed more energetic, their stamina improved, and they even started paying more attention to healthy eating (well, most of the time). It was amazing to see how a sport could not only be fun but also contribute significantly to their physical well-being.

Balancing Soccer with Arts and STEM

Juggling soccer with their usual arts and STEM activities was quite the balancing act for Griffin and Adair. There were times when it felt like a crazy puzzle, fitting in soccer practice between acting class and 3D printing class. But you know what? They managed it like champs. It was a lesson in time management and prioritization for them. They learned that you can have diverse interests and still make time for everything you love.

Reflecting on a Year of Soccer

As we look back on this adventurous year of soccer with Griffin and Adair, we’re filled with a mix of pride and nostalgia. From those first tentative steps onto the field to their confident dribbling and goal-scoring, it’s been an incredible journey. It wasn’t just about the sport; it was about them growing, learning new skills, and stepping out of their comfort zone.

Back to our roots: Deep Dive into the Arts

While we thoroughly enjoyed our soccer experience, we’ve decided to refocus and take a deep dive into the arts for the 2023-2024 homeschool year. We’re already buzzing with excitement, planning to purchase show tickets, enroll in various arts classes, and immerse ourselves in the vibrant world of creativity. This shift back to the arts isn’t a step back; it’s a leap forward, building on the confidence and versatility that soccer instilled in us. We are just acknowledging that sports is not their thing, and that is MORE THAN okay with us. We still kick the ball around outside, usually while listening to the soundtrack from Six or Hamilton!

Encouraging Others to Embrace Change and Growth

Our journey serves as a reminder that it’s okay to explore different paths and then pivot back to your passions with new perspectives and energy. We encourage other families to embrace the beauty of change and growth. Whether it’s sports, arts, or any new venture, there’s immense value in expanding your horizons. You never know what lessons you’ll learn, the connections you’ll make, and how these experiences will enrich your core interests. Here’s to new adventures and a thrilling deep dive into the arts!

Join the Adventure: Embrace New Challenges

Has our story inspired you to step out of your comfort zone? Whether it’s trying a new sport, picking up a paintbrush, or tackling a complex puzzle, we encourage you to take the leap! Share your experiences or plans for a new adventure in the comments below. Let’s motivate each other to explore, learn, and grow. Who knows, you might just discover a hidden passion or a new family tradition. Let the adventure begin!

By Tiana

Tiana Kubik has a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from the Erikson Institute, in Chicago. After teaching Pre-K-Kindergarten for almost ten years, Tiana moved on to run a Chicago-based photography company with her husband, with kids in tow for the last eleven years. Since 2021, Tiana has also began freelancing as Content Creator for Small Business.