I know, I know. I was the one who said MY KID would never be on a travel ball team. So, lately, I’ve had this taste of foot in my mouth that I can’t seem to shake. Truth is, I really didn’t know what I was signing up for when my wife told me about this great soccer team that we should take our oldest son to. I honestly thought we were just going to a normal recreational league practice.
After a couple of practices, they started throwing around terms like friendlies, tournaments, and fees. By that point, my son had invested himself into the practices and we were pleased with the coach and the fact that several of our church friends were on the team.
So, I wrote the check and yes, I am now proud to say “I’m a travel soccer dad.” I even have the little vinyl sticker on the back of my car to prove it. Here are some tips on how we make it work for our family without neglecting our convictions about church attendance.
1. Church Attendance Priorities – One of our musts, was that our son had to go to church, even if a game was on a Sunday. Now, for us, that involves some schedule changing so that we can make it to both, but it really hasn’t been a big deal.
2. Christian Coach and Families – Finding a coach with the same convictions about church attendance and priorities was important to us. Coach Terry is involved in his church and wants his kids to be involved as well. Our practices are scheduled around church times.
3. Low Pressure with Reasonable Expectations – Coach Terry knows his stuff. I’ve been impressed with just watching him coach my son and other kids. He is encouraging but firm. He doesn’t make kids run laps when they get to soccer late (like the football team practicing at the same time we are does!). He understands parents are busy. He expects the best out of each of his players, but doesn’t demean them.
4. Flexible Schedules – Coach Terry’s wife keeps us very well updated on all practices and game times. We know about everything, even down to the correct jersey/sock combos. Our team uses an app that is constantly updated so that my wife and I always know the right schedules. We can post on the app whether our son will be at a game or practice so it keeps everyone in the know. We also rarely have a game on consecutive weekends (which makes things much easier in my opinion!).
5. Local Travel Preferred – Our team stays in the middle Tennessee area. Our furthest game has been 45 minutes away. This keeps the costs down. Our family doesn’t have to spend the gas money, restaurant money, and hotel money that many travel team families invest.
I think that one of my mistakes in ministry was assuming that all travel ball parents had misplaced priorities. I’ve learned with a strong network of Christian families it can be done well and right. Now, does anyone know how I can get this foot-taste out of my mouth?