Different people have different events as life’s milestones. Graduations, marriage, the birth of a child and retirement are among those major life moments. To that list I also include the beginning and the end of my sons’ youth sports.
In 2000 Matt, my oldest, started playing t-ball and hockey. Over the next 12 years he went on to run track, play baseball, softball, soccer and hockey. Two years later Jack started sports and I was a busy parent. My work schedule permitted me more time for this than Sheila’s did.
This past weekend Jack, my youngest, had his final softball game. In the preceding 12 years Jack played hockey, bandy, softball, t-ball, baseball, soccer and football. Now Matt’s in the Navy and Jack’s going to college in a month.
After 14 years my involvement with youth sports is over.
I’ve been to countless practices, games and tournaments. Most of them I enjoyed in one way or another. I coached soccer one year and helped with hockey when the coaches were shorthanded. I’ve tied skates for plenty of little kids and gone over equipment checklists so often I could recite them in my sleep.
At early morning weekend hockey practices, inside barely heated hockey arenas, I drank hot coffee and read newspapers while whistles sounded and pucks hit the boards.
During summer practices I might go for a run or read a magazine while the kids threw baseballs or kicked soccer balls. When my boys each turned 16 they drove themselves to practices and I had a little more free time in my life. I still went to all the games.
At the winter games I watched and cheered. Sometimes I kept score or worked the penalty box which I liked doing. Summer games required a cooler and lawn chair. There would be Diet Coke for me, a bottle of water for whichever dog I brought with and extra ice for any player’s bumps or bruises.
My favorite sports moment of all time was the day Matt and Jack were on different softball teams and played against each other. In one inning they were both at first base chatting with each other and smiling. (Oh no, is dad taking another picture of us?)
Now I will have more time and money than ever to ride my motorcycle and bicycles. There won’t be any more scheduling training runs around the kids’ sports.
No more sports equipment to buy
No more stinky equipment to clean
No more fund-raisers
No more sports fees
No more overpriced team photos
I’ll miss it.