The Parent Trip: Soccer

I’m on a team. A ladies soccer team. Once a week we get together at the local field to kick the ball around.

  • Jul. 25, 2014 5:00 a.m.

By Shelby Cain


I’m on a team. A ladies soccer team. Once a week we get together at the local field to kick the ball around. We get between 20 and 40 women that come out.

The women range in… pretty much everything. Age, size, skill level, occupation, perspective, place in life. There are teenagers and grandmothers. Students and teachers. But when we get on the field we all have one thing in common. And it’s as simple as a ball.

I love it. It feels great to surround myself with this much diversity. In my daily life I find I spend most of my time with a narrow cohort. Moms with kids the same age as my kids. It works. It’s the easiest. But it’s nice to step out of the box sometimes.

When I arrive at soccer I sit on the grass and join a conversation that could be about anything from a cookie recipe to city politics, or anything in between. Last week I overheard a great one about bras.

It went like this: “Hey, that’s a nice bra, is it a running bra or an all-sports bra?” “Oh, it’s definitely an all-sports bra. It can even be a ‘going around town’ bra.” “Really? How about a ‘going out at night’ bra?” “No. Of course not.”


Can you imagine men talking about their undergarments this way? “Hey man. Nice boxers. Are those good beer-drinking boxers?” I can’t.

I tie up my shoes. And then the best thing happens. A whistle blows, and a booming voice starts bossing me around. “Okay, bring it in. EXCUSE me ladies! Bring it in.”

It’s our coach. And you better bring it in.

We circle up, try to tone down the giggling. Coach orders us into two lines, and we start doing what he says. All day long I tell little people what to do. Plan the day, the activities, the timeline. For the next hour and a half I get to be told where to go and what to do. I work hard. Run fast. Whisper to my friends when I can get away with it. It’s fantastic.

I played team sports when I was a kid. I think the skills you learn on a team come in very handy in life. And I don’t mean the athletic skills. I mean skills like how to work with other people, use your strengths, and recognize other people’s strengths. How to problem solve, find a different way to win. And probably most important, how to shut up and listen.

Sometimes if you stop talking long enough to really hear the other person out, all of your questions are answered. Your concerns put to rest. I’m still working on this one. Just ask my coach. Or my husband.