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Movin’ on Up

Simon is making some serious progress in his various sports, a situation I find equal parts amusing, thrilling, and daunting.

For example, his PE class just timed children in a half-mile race. Simon tied one other boy for fastest at 3:50. That’s up from 4:26 earlier this year and places his speed just shy of the 95th percentile for boys his age according to one site I found. This means I can stop worrying that Simon will be too slow to play soccer with the big kids this spring.

And when I say big, I mean the Louisville Soccer Alliance U-9 division, which Simon will technically qualify for in the spring of 2015, but which he’s probably joining four months hence. We were new to this league in the fall, having made the switch from Highland Youth Recreation League, a lovely place we miss but that wasn’t offering quite enough competition for my super competitive child.

Does that sound mad? It kind of does to me, but his frustration at players who were scared of the ball, players who didn’t want to play, and players who didn’t understand how to pass was palpable last spring, so we reluctantly left what many derisively call “the kumbaya league” for some more serious action. Louisville Soccer Alliance lacks much of the charm of HYR, but the upsides are considerable. Every kid wanted to play, no child seemed afraid of the ball, the coaches ran great footwork and conditioning drills, and the games were much more competitive.

Actually, scratch that last bit. The games should have been much more competitive, except that Simon and his buddy Lincoln teamed up to demolish the competition in many of them. Let’s put it this way, in the last game of the season, Simon decided to not hold back in the final quarter and ended up outrunning everyone on the field and scoring 4 goals in 6 minutes.

It’s performances like that that led his coach, Mike, to suggest that he and Lincoln try out for the U-9s together this spring. They will be a little undersized, but they both have the speed, Simon has the footwork, and Lincoln has the power. I’d be reluctant to attempt this jump were it not for two compelling facts: The first is that a coach at Mockingbird Valley, an indoor soccer facility where Simon plays during the winter and where he had his birthday party this year, told me that Simon should play with their U-9s this winter. And the second is that Simon just got bumped up to a tennis clinic aimed at 9- and 10-year-olds.

His first lesson was Sunday. After several reassurances that there would be several kids Simon’s age at the clinic, the receptionist showed me the roster after I grew nervous at the sight of Simon surrounded by kids three to four inches taller than he is.

“We have a couple of 7 and 8 year olds,” she declared. “See, look, here’s a seven-year-old.”

“That’s Simon.”

“Oh. Well, here’s an 8-year-old.”

Uh. huh. There was one. The other 10 kids were 9 or 10. He looked tiny, and I had a nagging feeling we had let flattery get the better of us and lead us to a terrible, terrible mistake. But he seemed to hold his own, and we saw him smile and laugh through the viewing window. Any remaining nerves were quelled by his coach telling me that he did great after the session and Simon telling me that he won  a “The King of the Court” game. Yes, you read that right; he won it.

I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t something exciting about seeing Simon succeed in his athletic endeavors. It’s especially gratifying when he out-plays some kid with a red-faced, screaming parent. It’s also highly amusing. How on earth did Matt and I create this child? Everyone tells me that the talent must be recessive and/or skip a generation, but I’m thinking a mutation must be the cause.

I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit to being daunted. How will I know when enough is enough? How will I know when I should push Simon and when I should give him a rest? The honest answer is that I won’t. Coaches talk to me about competitions (tennis) and traveling teams (soccer) as if they were foregone conclusions, but all these things take lots and lots of time and lots and lots of money. I don’t know how I feel about any of it.

What I do know is that until further notice Simon’s sportiness will preclude his attending The Russian School of Math or joining a chess team. There will be time for both later, and in the meantime Matt and I—non-athletes though we are—can see nothing but physical and social upsides to Simon’s participating in sports. By our reckoning, it will make his life easier in middle school, give him a very good reason to never smoke, and provide an outlet for stress when he’s in college* and in his career.

Of that, we are sure. We’re making up the rest as we go along.

*Unless, per his plans, he skips college to pursue his professional playing career. He doesn’t yet know that that option is not on the table, but I sure do.



One Response to “Movin’ on Up”

  1. blg says:

    Once again, it seems as though your instincts are quite sound.

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