If you looked up and clicked on the hashtag #SoccerDadChronicles on Instagram, the first post you will see is from Kevin Hart. If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know that I first coined the phrase over two years ago.
In the spring of 2014, I enrolled my daughter, Cydney into her first soccer program. It was a program that my friend, Neighbour, was one of the instructors; which would have made things a little easier for Cyd because of the familiar face.
While I have my personal reasons for regretting this decision, it was all worth it for my little girl. Every Saturday, I walked a total of four miles and two buses with Cydney on my shoulders to get there. She’s been talking about how much she wanted to go back to Team Frozen up until last week.
Cydney was the youngest person on the field, and that had her feeling discouraged during scrimmage time; but she took the drills seriously. She may not have been completely enthralled with it at the time; but it paid off. The next fall, I enrolled her into a more intimate instructional program. We met Coach Eddie, who has been nothing short of amazing with the children, all while recognizing Cyd has a special talent. He noticed that while the other three and four year olds were kicking over the cones-as instructed-by placing the ball right next to it; and Cydney was doing so kicking the ball from about ten feet away.
For two years, Cydney has been in instructional soccer year-round; only taking the summer off. Last spring, she was in two programs every Saturday. I hated that second one, so I started looking for another program to supplement the tutelage of Coach Eddie.
Last week, things came full-circle. I had enrolled Cydney in a soccer club in our town of Baldwin, NY. Since she’ll be in the school system, I figured this would be a good chance for her to meet some kids she might be in class with come September. Coming off the high of being my nephew’s basketball coach (I have a post about this coming soon), I decided I’m going to volunteer and become one. Yep…I’m the coach!
I was excited about the first coaches meeting. I’m finally coming to the realization that I am a suburban-Long Island dad and I find shit like this more exhilarating that going out at night in the city with my friends. I got the call sheet for the kids on my team and started a group text. Good, right?
Of course, there’s that one mom on the team! Before our first game, she sends a text asking about practice. I reply stating that we don’t need to have one at this point, because the kids are in pre-k and kindergarten…all they’re doing is instructional with thirty minutes of scrimmages. She came back with her son has been playing since he was two and they’ve always had practice. Slightly getting annoyed because it’s 1PM on a Wednesday afternoon and I have work to do; I tell her that in the coaches’ meeting, we were told that at kindergarten, we didn’t need to have any practices. I left it there and would hand out uniforms on Saturday.
This past Saturday was the day! Cydney was TOO excited. I handed Cyd her uniform first, giving her the number seven, because she wore that in Garden City and Liverpool forward, James Milner also wears that number. As the other kids and their parents came and introduced themselves, I was happy to see that Cydney would finally be playing with some kids of color. Out here, soccer Saturday mostly consists of children of color and their fathers. I loved that and was also excited about not being the only black parent…and as a voice for black fatherhood, I LOVE that. The first thing two of the fathers said to me was “So…we having practice this week?” and laughed. I took a sigh of relief that people understood me because they too thought it was ridiculous. It was as if they knew I was black from how I responded to the mom’s texts.
During the instructional period, I was extra excited because one of the teachers was a former assistant of Coach Eddie. That made the transition even easier.
During the scrimmage, the boy who had been playing soccer since he was two-per his mom-cried the whole time and didn’t want to come in the game at all. That’s why I ignored her. Nonetheless, the other kids had a great time. We scored a bunch of goals and Cydney had two herself; the first one within the first two minutes of play. They “won” their game and everyone was happy.
At the end of the game, I told the kids “Okay, the first order of business…we need a name. Any suggestions?” No one raised their hands except Cydney. Cydney said “The Orange Monsters!” I asked for any other suggestions and then let them vote. So now, we’re the Orange Monsters. We put our hands in, shouted it on the count of three, and that sealed the deal.
Because I’m assisting my nephew’s baseball team, I caved in and bought a Red Sox hat. As a lifelong Yankee fan, that disgusted me. While I was at the store, I thought about it and said, I need a vintage New York Giants cap, so that I can wear one to match my Orange Monsters. I found one.