girls' soccer

Daughter’s Parents Meeting for Soccer

So yesterday, I went to a parents meeting for soccer (for my youngest daughter). Usually my wife goes to these things, but since she’s regained a job, time is a precious commodity. And she hates these things because they’re so long and all the information is re-communicated in an e-mail anyway. So this time, I went as a favor to her. I came to the realization that I hate them too, but for different reasons. And going made me realize why I never participated in sports or competitive things.

When I came home, I felt triggered. I hate to sound like a “woke” bleeding-heart liberal, but I’m a sensitive boy. This is how I feel. I was having flashbacks to my high school P.E., which was traumatic for reasons you can probably expect. When my last class ended in tenth grade, I through a little party for myself, that I would never ever ever ever ever have to go to gym class again.

But the soccer meeting evoked all that back to me, and let me put a name to my demons. The coaches/teachers are what set me off. They’re loud, they’re commanding, they make bad jokes, they have big egos, they claim to promote teamwork but then single out individuals for mistakes. Their curriculum is based on shame and social control mechanisms.

Look, I’m sure the guy’s nice enough in real life, but he was obsessed with sports. Probably, sports was the only thing that ever gave him value in life, and now that he’s past his prime, he’s constantly trying to return to that. And the only way he can do that is through coaching. His girlfriend is in Sports Medicine, but he also has two kids in college (which should tell you something about how he maintains relationships) and she’s providing individual conditioning and weight-lifting programs for the girls. Plus, he was one of those guys who seemed proud for not being up-to-date on technology–that he still has a hotmail e-mail and not having a Venmo. Why are you making it hard for me to give you money? It’s 2023.

The first thing out of their mouths was how they want the program to cater to their sports highlight reel for college. My daughter’s only fourteen. She’s playing for fun. She’s not going to college based on her soccer skill. I wouldn’t want her to go to college based on her sports skills.

And there’s all these tournaments that he wants to go to. In Texas! And Kentucky! Practices twice a week, games on Sunday morning. Don’t they realize we parents have to drive them to these things? That maybe we have other children we need to maintain and need to go places? Like their jobs, their confirmation, jazz band, their own sports. Or maybe we have our own lives and activities and jobs we need to keep. And he’s looking forward to all this! All I’m thinking is “that’s so much work and I’m not even reaping any rewards”.

Look at what I do. I crochet, I write, I play video games, I read, I (try to) golf, I engineer software. These are all activities that focus on the achievement of the individual. I don’t need anyone shunning me or dependent on my own skill for their own accomplishments. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

So yeah, I had trouble getting to sleep last night, with this guy’s words echoing in my head, flashing back to those terrible gym teachers who yell at you because you can’t run fast, can’t shoot a basket, because they think you’re not trying hard enough.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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