Sunday, November 02, 2014

They Cheering Section for Auntie JuJu

Just before halftime in today's final game in the tournament at Morgan Hill, one of Julia's older sisters, Sarah Daisy, arrived at the stadium with her three young sons, and her Mom, Alison.

Julia spotted them from where she was playing right back, far across the field. (She has excellent eyesight.)

As her team sat on the grass at halftime, discussing with their coach how to come back from a 0-1 deficit, one of the other parents alerted me that "Julia is waving to the boys."

Sure enough she was and they jumped up and down and waved back.

In soccer, as in some other outdoor sports, the teams change sides of the field at halftime. That is meant to neutralize any ambient factors like wind that might affect the game. For example, kicking or throwing into the wind is far harder than kicking or throwing with the wind at your back.

Same with the sun. It is far harder to compete when you are looking into it than when it is looking at the back of you.

As luck would have it, Julia's team gained the side where we would be able to see her right in front of us in the second half. She plays right back, and at several pivotal points in the game, she grabbed the ball as it went out of bounds and threw it in right before her nephews, Oliver, Leif and James.

She and her teammates acquitted themselves well. Near the end of the game, they scored a dramatic goal and the final score was 1-1.

Due to a variety of factors like goal differential (too technical to describe here) that determine the final standings, they did not move on to play a fourth game.

But we were okay with that. Three intense games in 24 hours takes a toll on any athlete, even a 16-year-old in near-peak condition.

We then went to lunch as a family. We went somewhere Julia and I would never go -- McDonald's -- because it had a play structure where the little boys could and did have tons of fun. Meanwhile, Julia, Alison, Sarah and I got the opportunity to talk about schools, education, soccer, futsol, Montana, college, how Aidan and Dylan are doing, and Peter's impending return to Cal Tech.

As I sat there, watching my youngest interact with everyone, knowing her ankle was throbbing under the therapeutic tape strips that kept it stable during these three difficult games, I realized that what makes me proudest of all of my six shy kids is their sweet natural smiles.

How they smile at other people, including others within our big, extended family -- really two of what others might call "broken families."

I do not consider our clan broken. I have six great kids, six great grandkids, and two wonderful ex-wives. And they all smile at each other and give hugs brilliantly.

The word for that is "blessed."

Meanwhile, go Athena White! Season record is now 6-3-1 with two games left.