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Archive for December, 2010

Yes, New Jersey, there is a Soccer Mom

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Karl turned 40 last week and Kathy planned him a “surprise” that Steve and I would meet up with him in Jersey and maybe drive to Atlantic City or something. That was the plan. The problem, is that when you *plan* to surprise someone- they are not part of the planning.

Karl, without knowledge that anything was happening, planned to go coach Tim’s U14* soccer team in a big Tournament down in South Jersey. Add to this that Steve’s dad had an unfortunate accident and Steve was needed elsewhere**. What this adds up to is that it’s just me and crazy Atlantic City Nerd-a-palooza is called off.

I get down there and Friday night we go out to dinner in New Hope***. I had a few more martinis than one should have and end up playing some kind of war game on the X-box with Tim, Jake and Karl until 1:30 am.

The next morning comes way too fast. We’re due to head out at 10:30. I choke down a couple Eggo waffles and we’re off to south Jersey. On the way down I get the skinny on Tim’s team.

“We don’t get beat.” says Tim

“Wow, that’s confidence…”

Karl cuts me off, “No, really, they don’t. I’m kinda hoping that there’s someone good at this tournament that schools them. ”

I continue this line of questioning for a while only to find out that Tim is right. They played, I don’t know… 16 games during the season and their record is 15-0-1. The tie came when half the team was sick and they had to start…let’s say, squirrels in place of the backfield. They played the same team again later in the season and beat them 6 to nothing.

So, yes, they’re very good.

I arrived at the field to attend my first children’s soccer game since I myself was a children. I was surrounded by something I had only heard about on Television pundits and demographic numbers: Soccer Moms. Actual live in the flesh soccer moms. It was like seeing the Belgian warbler for the first time.

So after standing around for 10 mins at the beginning of the game, watching children I don’t know play a game i don’t understand, Karl sent me a text message “you can come over”. So I do. I am now an unrecognized adult male standing among a bunch of 12 year olds. At one point I go to the bathroom and one of the kids asks if I am stalking them. If we had thought quick Karl should have said “I don’t know that guy. Call the police” and then I would offer them candy. That story, however, ends different probably with me in jail.

As it turns out the team is very good and I am thankful because it gives me something to do while I’m freezing to death. It’s 45 degrees and I am dressed as one would dress if you were headed to Atlantic city for the weekend. It’s fine for a little while but after standing motionless for a while my teeth actually start to chatter.

Day 1 they take both games. The second of two, I learn a bizarre rule that if one team scores more than 5 points more than the other, they are penalized for every point over 5. So, in what I would describe as more demoralizing for the second team, during the second half of the game everyone on the sidelines is yelling at the players on the field any time they cross the center line “Don’t score! Don’t score!”

Game 1 5-0

Game 2 6-1

The next day they actually get some competition. They tie the first game and win the second. The second game the other team is coached by an actual drill instructor. In full drill instructor outfit.

Because they have gone 3-0-1 in the tourney they get to play in the championship game against a team we haven’t seen yet. They are a little unbelievable. They are all wearing sweatshirts that have their names on them which also says “undefeated 2005-2009”. They have uniforms for their coaches. The coaches have little megaphones that they use to yell at players in the field. The coaches have “play names”, he’ll yell “Stevie, Jim and Brent- artillery” and the 11 year olds on the field know what to do. It’s bizarre.

Karl schooling the troops

This game is tough. The two teams trade leads throughout the first half but Tim’s team ends the first half down by 1. In the first part of the second half two beautiful looking shots don’t go in, but they manage to tie on what I would call a “junk goal”. The tie goes into overtime.

All of sudden this game between two teams of kids has turned more exciting than the Steeler game that I’m missing. First overtime breezes by. No score. As anyone who watched the women’s world cup back in the 90’s knows, a game that goes through two overtimes goes to penalty kicks.  Karl borrows a piece of paper from me to start building his list of PK players. Just as he finished the list, somehow Tim’s team scores. We all proceed to go nuts. I had to talk two of the kids out of dumping gatorade on Karl. Thank god they listened. I can’t imagine how awful it would be to drive home an hour soaked to the bone.

Then they present these kids with giant trophies. Everyone goes home happy. I’ll tell you. It wasn’t a weekend boozing in AC for sure, but it was pretty good and a chance to see the other side of life.****

*U14 is short for under 14. I will spare you all of the New Jersey State children’s athletics rulings and explanations and just leave it at “under 14 years old”. It’s actually unbelievably complicated.

** Last I heard he was fine and moving towards a complete recovery.

***Quaint little town also known as the birthplace of Boognish

**** It could have been one of those christmas movies where the main character gets hit on the head only to find that they are married with kids and they realize that their other life with the drinking and the banging models doesn’t stack up.