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The Off Season

Pigs have taken wing. Hell has frozen over. Simon has just declared that he is ready to take a little break from soccer.

All it took was nine months of continuous play, barring a few weeks off in November between indoor and outdoor sessions, two weeks at the holidays, a snow day, and two rained out practices. Other than that, from September 2013 to the present, Simon has played soccer a minimum of three times per week. From March to the present, he’s played or practiced four times per week. During a two-week overlap of indoor and outdoor sessions, Simon played five times per week.

This week was the most intense yet, with a game on Saturday, a tennis clinic on Sunday, practice Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and a make-up game on Tuesday. That’s a lot of running for a little guy, and he’s doing it on a full field with boys 1-2 years older than he is.

Yesterday, for the first time in ages, Simon fell asleep in the car on the way home from school. Once inside the house, he told me he was “a little soccered out” and ready for a break. I didn’t know if I’d ever hear this from him, but it made sense. Everyone has their limits, and Simon has pushed himself to extremes.

Of course, he went on to work hard at practice for 1.5 hours and stayed an extra half hour to play with a friend and try to score on Coach Duke.

So do I believe him? Sort of. I believe he’s overdone it the last week. I believe that after nine straight months his body—like anyone’s—is ready for an off-season. (Even the pros take mid-May through mid-August off.) I believe he’s ready for some time in the pool, some time on the golf course with his grandfather, and a lot of time on the tennis court.

But I also believe that two weeks into his off season he’ll be kicking the ball around the house non-stop and begging to go to Seneca Park to play. I’m not sure if Simon is capable of taking an extended break from soccer no matter how much his body could benefit from it. Having said that, I’m heartened that he’s run up against perceived limits and wants to try to ease off.

His focus, dedication, and seemingly endless capacity for exertion was inhuman! A little slack will do us all good.


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