Trials and tribulations of a soccer dad

By  Lisa Petsche
  • July 24, 2008

{mosimage}Prior to our daughters’ soccer tournament in New York state last weekend, my husband tried to interest other parents in carpooling. He volunteered to drive the two-and-a-half hours each way, but forewarned that our minivan’s air conditioning wasn’t working.

Since we were in the midst of a heatwave, another parent offered to drive instead. He had a new van with all the extras, including multiple movie screens. My husband and two daughters readily agreed to travel with him and his daughter.

By the time they pulled out of our driveway, the van was crammed to capacity with duffel bags, sleeping bags and pillows, coolers and chairs, towels, umbrellas, food and beverages and miscellaneous items.

Accommodation for our club’s girls’ and boys’ teams had been arranged with a local college. Several parents, my husband included, also stayed in the residence as chaperones. The rest were scattered around town in various motels.

Friday evening was uneventful, involving unpacking, socializing and resting up before two busy days of competition.

Things quickly began to deteriorate the next morning. During the first game, one of my daughters’ teammates suffered a knee injury. When it became clear she needed medical attention, her father, with whom my husband and kids had carpooled, decided to take her home to a familiar hospital. Only after they left did my husband realize a case of bottled water, some towels and an oversized umbrella of ours were still in their vehicle.

That afternoon, it rained heavily. Between games, my husband did his best to dry his shirt, along with our daughters’ team jerseys, in the park washroom, using a wall-mounted hand dryer.

There were more injuries, and some re-injuries, and by the end of the day the girls’ team had only 10 players — one short of a full complement. Lacking sufficient numbers, including substitutes, is not only a handicap, it can also be dangerous during a heatwave, when players can easily dehydrate without a break.

On the sidelines, meanwhile, my husband’s ears were attuned to talk among the parents of going to a grocery store or eatery, and his eyes were peeled for familiar faces heading towards the parking lot. A man with a mission, throughout the weekend he solicited rides for himself and our daughters: from the residence to the various soccer fields, to restaurants, back to the residence between games to get relief from the heat and humidity, and so on. Players’ parents were sympathetic to their plight, but not all were able to help, since some had also carpooled or brought along the whole family.

Early on Sunday my husband began lining up a ride home. Upon overhearing him, one of the coaches assured him there was room in his van. But my husband had seen him unloading on Friday, and doubted there’d be sufficient space for three extra people and their stuff.

The coach insisted he and the girls put their gear in his van when they checked out of the dorm. My husband continued to ask around, though, to see if anyone else’s vehicle was under capacity. Just when it looked like he and the kids would have to split up, he found a driver who could accommodate them all. She was short on storage space, though, so their luggage remained in the coach’s van.

The kind but directionally challenged mother arranged to follow another parent home. Despite the fact the lead driver had a Global Positioning System, they became lost several times before crossing into Canada.

To make a long story short, my family’s belongings preceded them home that evening.

They arrived tired and cranky — not surprising, considering they’d been on the road for hours, the three of them and their stuff had bounced among numerous vehicles that weekend, the weather had been oppressive and their team lost all its games.

As for me, I was just thankful my usual tournament prayers were answered and my family was back, safe and sound.

For all the drama of that wacky weekend, none of them sustained an injury, developed heat sickness or even got sunburned.

They’re still tracking down an umbrella and a towel, but otherwise life is good.

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