Saying Goodbye to the Sideline

Lisa writes: It is the beginning of the end.  As the cool autumn air descends, Mary Dell and I stand on the sideline for one final season, watching our seniors take to the fields with their respective high school soccer teams. We are breathing in memories from the days when their little legs were so small that their soccer shorts and socks had barely a gap between them. We also recall the final inning home run in third grade and the game-winning touchdown in high school, both straight out of a feel good movie. There were spine-tingling buzzer beaters and heart breaking losses. There were seasons spent mostly on the bench and seasons spent in starring roles.  We remember it all.

Team Sports, sideline parents

As we move from the sidelines of our kids’ games to the sidelines of their lives, still watching, still cheering, but at a distance, it all comes rushing back. We remember terrifying trips to the ER for x-rays or stitches, clutching a child in our arms and wondering, if only for a minute, whether competitive sports really were such a good idea.  There were tears to be wiped, tears of disappointment, frustration, anger or confusion. But, these tears reminded us why our kids play on teams and how many of life’s lessons can be learned on the playing field.  And there was joy, pure exultant joy, the cup-overflowing happiness that comes to a child who has worked and practiced and, with a bit of luck, finds the success they pursued.

We have cheered and consoled.  We have offered first aid and Gatorade. But we have never stood alone.  At our sides stood some of the most wonderful parents we ever hope to meet. Some of these parents were our closest friends, others we might never have crossed paths with and count ourselves lucky that we were able to share a bleacher.

In the spirit of offering our thanks, will be eternally grateful to:

Parents with Joe

Those parents who show up with an oversized container of coffee complete with extra cups, milk and sugar.  On a cold November day, those parents are gods.

Moms with Sugar

Moms who halt the whining of younger siblings by generously offering snacks.  We know that, as their parents, we were supposed to provide our small children with refreshments, but every week we forgot and some well-prepared mom stepped up. There is a special place in heaven for parents who arrive at the sidelines with homemade baked goods.

Younger Siblings

Younger siblings, who deserve a lifetime good sportsmanship award for their willingness (not that they had a choice) to come to each and every game and to be bribed by sugar in its various forms.

Parents with First Aid Kits and Skills

Parents with medical training. The nurses, doctors and others who examined a bumped head or cut chin and gave us reassurance, advice or directions to the ER.

Volunteer Coaches

Volunteer parent coaches who give up their weekends and their evenings to impart their love of a sport.  This is an act of pure dedication as these devoted parent/coaches grapple with the challenges of complaining and abusive parents, disinterested kids and incompetent refs.  Our hats are off to you.

Friends who Share

Sideline friends who have oversized blankets and umbrellas to share.  Parents divide neatly into two categories, the prepared and the unprepared, and we are forever indebted to those with the capacity to think ahead.

Those who Welcome

The moms of Varsity players who welcomed us as the newest moms on the team and to their kids who were raised right and, likewise, embraced our kids into the fold.  We will forever love your children for making our children feel welcome on the team.

Parents who Take Great Pixs

Amateur photographer parents with their massive lens and propensity to share.  Our kids have no idea that we did not take all those crystal clear photographs of them and we plan on keeping it that way.

Team Managers

The team managers, the most tireless souls alive.  These were the folks that gave the rest of us marching orders for bringing drinks and moving fields.  They were the ones who sent emails at 2 am about weather delays and missing uniforms.  How did anyone do this brave work before the advent of email?

Stand-Ins and Stand-Ups

The stand-in parents.  They were the sideline friends who grabbed our kids when the game finished and we were nowhere to be found but rather stranded with a sibling at another game or doctor’s appointment.  These stand-up friends waited at the field or dropped our kids back home.  Without them our children would still be waiting by the side of that field.

Teammates

Every parent who understood the meaning of the word “team” and showed it by cheering for all the kids, supporting the coaches and keeping quiet about the refs.  Their every action set an example to all of our children of the value of good sportsmanship and being a part of something larger than yourself. We hope this is a lesson our kids will carry with them always.

We have been blessed to spend a decade and a half among these wonderful souls.  We have stood in rain, snow and blazing sun sharing their fellowship and coffee.  As we wind our way towards the season’s end, savoring the weeks remaining, we look at the parents beside us knowing how large they loom in all that we will miss.



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Comments

  1. happy outlook says:

    Your great post brings back the many happy memories of standing on the sidelines cheering with the other parents.

  2. This brought back memories from when our daughter played field hockey and softball. The away games were tough — often they ended around rush hour and the ride home was tedious — but it was great watching our daughter play and achieve, and hearing the other parents praise her skills. Great post!

    • So true about the difficulty of the away games but there has been little in our lives to compare with watching our kids grow up playing sports. Thanks!

  3. Diane says:

    Lisa-This post really made me cry, as soccer season was truly a favorite sports season of mine, as were the soccer moms (and dads, and extended families!). A number of years later, I still have a photo of my favorite soccer moms (you are in it!) prominently displayed on my fridge and each day when I glance at it, I fondly remember that special season (that included the snow game), team of boys, coaches and group of families and feel very grateful. Thanks for the heartwarming memories as I still struggle with missing my college boys.

  4. Wow.
    So very true, every word.
    I was the photographer mom.
    The emptiness of wondering “what are we going to do for the weekend” once the girl’s soccer careers were over was overwhelming. And yes, those were/are some of our best friends we met on those sidelines.
    I guess we were as much of a team on the sidelines as the one we watched on the field.
    Nancie Bartley recently posted..Pine Cone GarlandMy Profile

    • Nancie, such a true sentiment about how the parents on the sidelines make up their own team….thank goodness for the photographer moms and dads to help with the memories.

  5. Drove by some fields just this weekend and mourned the passing of my sideline days at lacrosse games. I sure wish I had appreciated them more.
    Allison recently posted..Happy Birthday Little Red Riding Hood.My Profile

    • Allison, we are trying to appreciate every last thing about our kids’ senior years. Writing G&F is helping – we weren’t doing this with our older two.

  6. I always get a little wistful when I see the local kids soccer and softball games going on – though I always had mixed feelings about kids sports, I miss those days now that my kids are grown. Fortunately it was my husband who was the photographer, so we have tons of photos to look at! Great post.
    Sharon Greenthal recently posted..Reinvention for Real PeopleMy Profile

    • Sharon, thanks. We know that we will miss these games next year and will have those same wistful thoughts as you do when we see little kids on the field.

  7. This brings me back…very sweet post.

  8. This is how all communities should be.
    Korinthia recently posted..Tired of ThisMy Profile

  9. It wasn’t soccer for either of my kids, but these sentiments apply to me now as I listen to the marching band practice…it brings back so many fabulous memories! It definitely takes a village to participate in extracurriculars!
    Phoebe Wulliman Graber recently posted..Forward Thinking: Monday ListiclesMy Profile

    • Phoebe, whatever our kids’ interests, they brought us into their worlds. Agreed, all villagers are definitely needed with extracurriculars.

  10. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Love love love. When my youngest played her final game, I felt such a pang of loss. Despite the occasional inconveniences, it was such fun to attend these events. I know my children appreciated my being there as much as I could, too.

    • Helene, we have that last game circled on the calendar…actually, we have the last home game, the last away game. Stocking up on kleenex.

  11. I just stopped at a traffic light Friday night with the windows down with packs of moms and dads, younger siblings and grandparents crossing the street to the Friday Night Lights of a football game just beginning. I could hear the band playing and the announcer on the loud speaker. I waxed so nostalgic as both my boys played football from Pop Warner to Varsity ball in high school. Those autumns were so much fun – and I’ve yet to watch a college or pro game that compared. Thanks for the trip down memory lane this September morning, Lisa!
    Barbara recently posted..Three empty nest moms in palm springsMy Profile

    • Barbara, you are so right about how watching our kids play is much more exciting than other other sporting event. Not sure what we might be doing next fall…..

  12. What a beautiful tribute to how wonderful it can be to be part of a real team. It sounds like you and your children have had a wonderful and positive experience. Your list brought back great memories of when my kids were young. We, too, were lucky to be part of a very supportive community who knew what teamwork, on and off the field, is all about.
    Mo at Mocadeaux recently posted..Riesling Paired With ShrimpMy Profile

    • Being part of these teams has been a significant part of our kids’ young lives. We feel fortunate that they have had (mostly) positive experiences and have learned from all, good or bad. Thank you for your kind words.

  13. Wow, this brought back so many great memories of days spent on baseball and softball fields. I love looking back at the pictures and remembering the amazing camaraderie between the kids — and the parents. Those were really fun days!
    Lois Alter Mark recently posted..i made it into the “blogger idol” top 13!My Profile

  14. Wonderful post, Lisa!

    Thanks for reminding us of all the little things that go into a successful “extended” team — from generous parents to siblings to thoughtful and caring friends. It takes a strong extended team to make a winning team for our kids.

    • Paul, thanks! The teamwork is definitely on the field with the kids and all along the sideline with parents. You are right about the importance of the strong extended team of parents.

  15. Also, the parents who make the hotel reservations. I have been a team manager and being prompt enough to reserve a block of rooms for our away games was never my strong suit. I was always so grateful for those who stepped up and did it way in advance for me! (It helps that one of our team moms had triplets, boys and a girl so she did it for both squads so we could always be in the same motel).
    Jana recently posted..Well, Hello ThereMy Profile

    • Jana, yes, for the travel teams the hotel arrangements can be nightmares. Thanks for the reminders!

  16. I have been trying to find the time to read this one , Lisa and Mary Dell. Such poignant times for both of you and the gratitude you express is certainly what many of us have felt! I now see those folks in the gym or the grocery store and there is a true warmth when I see them – if I know them well enough, I ask about their child, and they mine. But sometimes, I can’t remember their child’s name so just smile and wave. This is a wonderful post and I will look forward to others as you wind your way through this year.
    Margaret Rutherford recently posted..No Helicopter ZoneMy Profile

  17. I hope you and your children have a great final season. I am seven years in to life on the touchline and have another ten or so to go until my youngest flies off and find it one of the most rewarding parts of life as a parent.
    Touchline Dad recently posted..1, 2, 3, ‘andstandMy Profile

  18. Beautiful! Even though so many times I froze, was wet, tired and not in the mood to be outside on the sidelines…I miss those days.
    Sheryl recently posted..Ten Things I’d Change If I Were in Charge Of the Midlife World…My Profile

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