"You're crazy!" my girlfriend exclaimed after I told her our weekend soccer schedule.
My 4th grader had four (yes four) soccer games and my little guy had one. And they were all at least 30 minutes away. They both play travel soccer. After years of saying no, we finally caved and let them tryout this year. And, while it has been a huge commitment, it was the best decision we ever made.
My girlfriend thought I was crazy with a Capital C, not only because we drive to games, but because my boys play soccer three times a week. So that means I am carting them from field to field throughout the week.
But what I think she's missing, and this is exactly why we do it, kids who play an intense sport have to be disciplined. In everything. The rule is if your homework is not done (or if you've done poorly at school that day) you don't play. If you don't play, you could lose that precious spot you've worked so hard for. So they are motivated to do well in school, come home, and get their homework done, so they can get to practice.
My little guy, who is only in first grade and is playing on the second grade team, can sit still now. His teacher told me that playing soccer is just as important as his homework. Because he needs to be physical. He needs to be in a constructive environment. He craves it.
And even though they spend so much time on the field, they are still able to play with their friends outside, attend all the regular church activities, and have family time. What they don't do now is watch TV or play video games. Ever.
We looked at several clubs before we allowed our boys to tryout. Some practiced five days a week, which I wasn't ready for. Others were horribly expensive (as in thousands of dollars), which I also wasn't willing to do. We finally settled on a club in our hometown that is sponsored by the park district. I loved the coaching philosophy--they want the kids to grow up loving soccer and to learn how to be team players. Plus the price was right.
But the real beauty of travel soccer it is sitting on the sidelines every weekend and watching your kid on the field playing a game he loves with teammates he's bonded with. The competition is getting tougher and tougher. But they have risen to the challenge.
And cheering on the sidelines is exactly where this soccer mom loves to be every weekend.