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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Still Kickin' It

Blake at the Arizona Inaugural Tournament.
September 2008


It's Saturday. It's October. For the past seven years, that's meant one thing in our household -- soccer game day.

Blake is in 6th grade now and his seventh year of soccer, but I still vividly recall his very first soccer game when he was just 5 years old. I remember the small neighborhood field on the warm September day. I remember how cute it was to see those little ones bunch around the ball as they got their first taste of team sports. And I remember how that soccer ball lured Blake like a magnet. How my excitement mounted as he zipped up and down the field with a passion and a purpose. He's been chasing that ball ever since.

Blake in his early soccer days. 2003

Through the years Blake has shone on the soccer field. His skills are phenomenal. But his true gift is his passion for the game. Blake has always looked forward to practice, played oodles of soccer at home, watched professional soccer on TV, and the past few years is focused on his "fitness," as he calls it. He spends hours looking at soccer gear on web sites, looking at state standings and planning/daydreaming about his soccer future in Europe.

His years of soccer have kicked up many wonderful memories. I remember the year -- I think it was his second or third season -- when Blake's trademark was the bright gold headband he wore to each game. Panic ensued if he couldn't find it before a game.

I'll always remember the friends he played with for years in Elk Grove -- especially Mikey and Shawn. How the trio went on to play their first season of competitive club soccer together in 2006-07. How we became friends with their families and how they were so generous in shuttling Blake around when I was overwhelmed with the twins. How that team never won a game but those three little guys played their hearts out game after game.

And how, just as tryouts for the next season were about to begin, we learned we'd be moving to Arizona. Blake undoubtedly was bummed to leave his team and his friends, but his soccer quest ultimately went undeterred. He joined the local club here in Arizona and his love for the game continues to grow. (Nicky's been playing since kindergarten, too. The Arizona season for him doesn't start until next week, so more on his playing in future posts.).

Blake -- during his headband era -- and friend Mikey.

It's been such fun watching bunch-ball gamers develop into true soccer players. Each year it gets more compelling -- and more nerve-wracking as they play harder and endure more injuries. Last year Blake went up for a header -- along with an opponent. Blake got slammed in the nose and his eye and nose area were swollen for weeks.

An example of a time when I say a little prayer, hoping nobody gets hurt. Not sure why Blake is slamming into the opponent.

So as we head out to the soccer field each Saturday
, I'm thankful for the friends the sport has brought to our family and the many benefits of being part of a team for Blake. But most of all, I'm thankful that Blake has found a true and pure passion at such a young age. A wonderful gift, indeed.

Time to go ... it's almost game time.

Blake going for the ball during a tournament. 2007

1 comment:

angie said...

WOW. So many years of soccor, and that last picture is pretty darn amazing!

Thanks for stopping by!