Numbers are used in so many areas of our everyday lives. We use them to name streets and to give an identity to the location of a home or building. We use them to convey the worth of something by placing them in an order to identify how much something cost. Our age, years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds are all things where numbers are used to show a passage of time. I have some numbers that are my favorite, one of which is 21.
Why 21? Not for the obvious reason that in America it is an age that is considered a right of passage. Legal drinking age. Three years after you can join the military, vote, get married without parental consent, and other things that require you to be 18. No, the number 21 is special to me because that is the day of the month that my last child was born. I like the numbers belonging to the other two also, but have singled out 21 because my daughter also chose that as her soccer jersey number.
My daughter started asking to play soccer around the age of 4 or 5. We moved to area where she started playing on a co-ed rec team at the local YMCA when she was 7. We knew nothing about the sport (and, honestly, I’m still learning), but she loved it. She had been in dance prior to this and the schedule was such that she needed to choose between the two. She chose soccer and has never looked back.
She is number 10 in this earlier photo. When she started playing travel in the fall of 2014, you were able to put in your top 5 requests for a number. Number 10 was her first choice and number 21 was next. She has worn the number 21 on her back for the past two years.
Since she is a lefty, she typically plays a left forward. This means that she is close to my camera for a half the game and on the complete other side for the other half. The two years that she has been on this team have been a wonderful experience for her. Most of the girls stayed the same both years, but they embraced the new ones as if they’d always been there. I love to see that kind of welcoming. As a parent who was new to the town, the club, and the sport, it was nice to feel included somewhere.
There was a big struggle here to find my place when I moved. Nobody tells you how hard it is to meet people when you are a stay at home mom with kids that are school age. There isn’t story time or something similar to MOPS. You aren’t meeting people at work. So I was happy when the parents of the girls were so friendly and genuine. They have been a bright spot in my week when I would see them at practice or the games.
We spent Memorial Day weekend at a soccer tournament in Greensboro, NC. My daughter plays on the U12 team. They play two 30 minute halves with 8 players on the field. The first day, Saturday, the girls had two afternoon games. It was very hot! So hot that the second game had mandatory water breaks every 15 minutes. The girls won both of their games and would play again at 9:15 Sunday morning.
There was a tropical depression that was bringing in lots of rain. They moved up the game time to 9:00. Luckily, our hotel was only about 15 minutes from the fields. The field was a muddy mess. The refs told us that the girls would be playing two 20 minute halves and in the event of a tie would go straight to penalty kicks instead of overtime. The parents stood under umbrellas and tents while the the girls ran through the drenching rain. I watched my daughter try to stomp the mud off of her cleats whenever there were pauses in play. The ref on our side was running back and forth along the sideline when his feet slid in the mud and he was suddenly on his back. The ball was slick, the girls all covered in mud and the game ended in a tie. They moved on to penalty kicks and won the game, advancing to the championship.
The rain was much lighter for their championship game, at times completely holding off. They were still to play 20 minute halves which ended in a tie. They went to penalty kicks, winning the championship. It was such a great ending to their season.
Next year everything changes.
The U.S. Youth Soccer Association is moving to teams based on birth year. Up until this point, she has played in a way that keeps grade levels together. My daughter was born in 2003, while a segment of her team was born in 2004. This makes her skip U13 and jump straight to U14 next year. I am going to miss the girls and parents that we are leaving behind, but so thankful that some will be moving up with her. A new team means the possibility of a new number. I’m sure that 21 will move to her first choice since it has been such a part of her for the past two years.
Let your light shine!