A view from my side.
The post season officially began last night. The larger schools have one more post season match than the rest of us, and most of the 6A teams played Round 1 of their tournament last night. Kid#3‘s team won their match, 2-0 and will advance to play next Tuesday night against what is arguably the #1 team in the state. We will train tomorrow and Monday for our Round 1 match, also Tuesday night, against our cross town rival. So far, they have beaten us twice this season. And, while we have beaten them 3 times in a season before, they have never beaten us 3 times in a row.
If you read that carefully you will see that Kid#3’s team and my team play on the same night. In a normal year, that would not present any problem for me. I would be at my team’s match and friends would provide me with updates on Kid#3’s match. When our matches ended, we’d meet up at home later and go over the highlights.
But this is not a normal year. This is Kid#3’s senior year. This will, in all likelihood, be his last high school match…ever. And not only that…since he turned down 2 offers to play in college, this will most likely be his last organized, competitive soccer match. Period. The End. Despite his love of the game (see Bike It), his career will come to an end Tuesday night.
For most players, that decision is made for them by their skill level. Not to be mean, but there are only so many positions available at our nation’s colleges for players. There are far more high school players than there are college players. So simple math cuts the vast majority from the team. Most players understand this and accept that they will be done at the end of their high school season.
My boys all grew up on fields. As a single dad with custody of my boys, I dragged them from practice pitch to match pitch all over the southeast. From Texas in the west to North Carolina in the east, I have either been coaching a match or watching a kid play in one in every state in between. Even Kid#1, who did not play, was often hauled with us because we were all going. When the boys were playing, I sat and watched. When I was coaching, I would often hand them off to a parent or keep them on the sideline with me. Someone even took a picture of Kid#3 with me at a match while I was coaching. We are in the middle of a match and I am holding him back to keep him from running onto the field. He was 5 at the time.
Kid#3 made this decision on his own. He decided he was done. He had offers to continue. He thought about what it meant to him and what it would mean in his college years. He decided he wanted to be, as he put it, “just a normal person” in college. He wants his afternoons to himself. He wants his schedule to be his own. He wants to be able to go to events, have a girlfriend, and do the things that everyone else does while he is working out, running, training and playing. That is his Post Season Decision.
I respect that. I understand that. I, too, made a decision at a point in my life to hang up the boots and play no more. It wasn’t an easy decision for me, but we all reach a point where we decide we are done. I told my Athletic Director, the Head coach and the players the other night that if Kid#3’s team won their Round 1 match, I would NOT be at our Round 1 match on Tuesday night. That I would be in the stands, like any other parent, watching their son play in his last match, ever. That is my Post Season Decision.