My five-year-old (who will be six on Saturday) recently joined a soccer team, called the Spiders. They are in a league with other little bugs, such as the Butterflies and the Mosquitoes. Their team names should give you a baseline understanding of the level of cuteness at play here, because the whole thing is Cute With a Capital Caterpillar.
Sometime in the days of the Roman Empire, some mother sat down in the Coliseum as her child prepared to wrestle a lion and said very magnanimously to the crowd, “I just hope everyone has fun.” This oft-repeated, rarely believed phrase has permeated all levels of sport – except five-year-old soccer, where fun is the only goal. Playing isn’t even really that important. When my nine-year-old was in five-year-old soccer, his favorite part was the mid-game snack.
Obviously, there are snacks. The games are two fourteen-minute halves, and heaven forbid any child go for twenty-eight whole minutes without an orange slice or a pack of Goldfish. Now that I’m a seasoned five-year-old soccer veteran I also have a strong feeling that the snack is there to stretch the morning out just long enough so that the amount of time packing up and traveling to soccer is not greater than the actual game time of soccer.
The Spiders played the Beetles this past weekend. Kyle is the coach, so we had to arrive thirty seconds before everyone else so that he could set the bag of soccer balls down on our side of the field.
Five-year-old soccer is a lesson in numbers – specifically, how many children, parents, and grandparents can fit onto a grassy field. Each team is given a square (Kyle says they are 50 yards by 30 yards each, so we’ll use that as fact) with a center line, two miniature nets, and a flag with a field letter on it. Last weekend we were on field “F” and a dad came up to us dragging a leg (with a kid attached to it), and asked, “Where is ‘P’?” so there were at least 16 fields in action in Grand Forks five-year-old soccer that day.
Kyle ran a warmup before the game. For the parents, this warmup meant setting up our lawn chairs and tying soccer cleats. For the kids, it meant passing (kicking and giggling), shooting (kicking and giggling), and running laps (shrieking like wild animals). The warmup concluded with retying of the cleats and a chorus of, “I’m hungry.”
Here are some more numbers: the Spiders is made up of seven players. Four players can be in play at a time. How many children want to be on the field at any given moment? The answer is somewhere between zero and seven. One little girl in sparkly sunglasses would get called in, run up to Kyle and say, “I need a drink of water,” and then attempt to go back to the sideline. My own five-year-old played until he scored a goal, and then promptly benched himself so that he could ask all of the parents, “Did you see that sick goal? Was it the best goal you’ve ever seen?” He actually scored a second goal later in the game but didn’t realize it until Kyle told him later on because he was so focused on getting through his shift and back to his half-eaten mid-game snack (it’s a family trait).
There were a lot of goals scored that day; although not nearly as many as you’d think considering 1) there weren’t any goalies, and 2) if one kid got the ball, everyone else waited patiently until he or she dribbled down and shot. Half of the job of the coaches was to remind the players that they should be playing. The other half was picking up fallen/sitting players, examining boo-boos, and asking children to stop picking at the grass.
They don’t keep official score in five-year-old soccer, but my son told me that they won “sixty-five million to eight.” I heard a similar comment from one of the Beetles to his own parents, so I guess it was a contested win. The players weren’t allowed to shake hands, so Kyle led the Spiders in a rousing round of “Hip, Hip, Hooray, Yay, Beetles” to show they were good sports. The team celebrated by playing on the nearby playground with arguably more gusto than they had shown in the game.
We rounded up our now-sweaty five-year-old and loaded him in the car with his brother, the lawn chairs, the soccer balls, the water bottles, the snack cooler, and a change of clothes because Five was in the habit of getting hot/cold/itchy with his uniform around halftime.
“Did you have fun, buddy?” I asked as we pulled away.
“YES,” Five said. “I love basketball.”
“That was soccer,” I reminded him.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “I like soccer, too.”
The photo above is of Coach Kyle.
This week’s news is about a new museum in Antler, recovery after a cow attack, and Tigirlily. Read on.
After Lakota’s Kris (who is fighting throat cancer) and Dave Beck lost their home in a fire, the Lakota community donated the proceeds of a city-wide garage sale (and let them take whatever they wanted), and Aneta’s Jack Kueber sold them a “substantially-discounted” home in the nearby town (and also gave them money to renovate). (Grand Forks Herald)
Antler’s town square – the community’s foundational building – has had many life: as a rooming house, a bank, and now, a museum. And here’s an interesting fact: it’s the last-remaining original town square in North Dakota. (KX Net)
Congratulations to Fargo’s Courtney Schaff and Twin Buttes’ Jodi Rave Spotted Bear on being awarded two of twenty-four Bush Fellowships! (Fargo Forum)
Dickinson’s Jayne Ketterling received the Stark County Spirit of Excellence Award for gathering 11,000 pounds of food, sundries, and cash donations in order to “save Christmas for many families in need.” (Dickinson Press)
Walcott’s Robert Nord had a tough year – a cow broken his back, he contracted COVID-19, and then needed gallbladder surgery – but it’s gotten a little easier thanks to Farm Rescue helping him get his crop in the ground. (KVRR)
Newly-signed Tigirlily is coming to Medora on July 5. (Williston Herald)
The Minot community is lifting up 19-year-old Angeleah Bursiek as she works through an ALS diagnosis. (KFYR TV)
Do you live in Minot and know a budding actor? The Missoula Children’s Theatre is seeking 60 kids (ages 7+) for “Johnny Appleseed” in June. (Minot Daily News)
(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice? Check out last week’s story about two geese, and this other story about a sports rivalry, published with permission from The Red Cent.)