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On being a sportswriter to soccer mom and back again

Some thoughts on watching the pros and U-9 soccer.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

There are times in which I feel I lead a double life.

Online, I am a journalist covering professional soccer, watching games across several leagues every week and reporting on a daily basis about various teams, having the time of my life and getting paid to do this, somehow!

In the physical world, however, it’s not really apparent. Sportswriters aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, there is no “I cover professional soccer!” work uniform, and being a woman leaves many folks rather surprised at the vocation, too.

Recently, with the easing of pandemic restrictions, children returning to school and COVID vaccines being distributed, we’ve started to ease back into regular life again after more than a year of being totally isolated.

A month ago my daughter got back into organized sports, playing soccer again after well over a year with no team sports activities.

She’s old enough now that the kids can start to differentiate themselves with their skills. They’re learning positions, how to do throw-ins, and mercifully finally learning how to pass the ball to each other every so often.

Seeing these kids get to run around, learn something new, some of them succeed, some of them try and probably realize they won’t be going too far in the sport but having some fun anyway, it helps put things into perspective as a parent and a sportswriter.

It can be hard to remember that every professional athlete was not only the best player on their team growing up, they were likely the best by far and for many towns around theirs. All pros, even the ones barely clinging on in the game, are so unbelievably good to have made it to the pros at all. Obviously there are talents who fall through the cracks, hopefully fewer now that the American pro landscape is maturing and expanding, but you have to be so incredibly good to make it to the pro level at all in this sport.

It’s also funny to see when pros do foul throws, that it’s a scourge at all levels of the game. Sitting on the sideline, other parents have a fit sometimes when the referee calls our kids’ foul throws pretty strictly, but I just shrug and say, “They’re teaching them to do them right.”

I think ultimately, for anyone who played or plays sports, there is a rush you get from making a great play. My daughter is one of the smallest players on her team, but she willingly took a turn at goalkeeper in Saturday’s match. There came a breakaway when she was between the posts where she got down and grabbed the ball to block the shot. Before she had finished standing up all the way with the ball, she was beaming as everyone cheered her for making the stop. My heart was full.

No team, at any level, is going to win every game, no player is going to have a flawless performance. But whether you’re watching the best players you can ball out or down at the park to catch your kid’s youth game, cherish those great plays, those moments when your heart is full. For me, it’s the best way to unite my online career persona and my “real life” mom persona, to never forget that above all, chase that feeling of being the kid making the play, today and every day.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.