Don’t Call Me A Soccer Mom - Soccer Parenting Association

Don’t Call Me A Soccer Mom

Let me tell you a secret. If you want to upset me, make my heart rumble a bit and the hair on the back of my neck stand up, there’s only one thing you need to do:

Call me a “Soccer Mom.”

I loath the term “Soccer Mom.”

Many of you may feel otherwise – and possibly some of you even like being called a Soccer Mom. Really – it’s not the name that I am bothered by. My disdain for the term is certainly not a gender issue.

For me, the moniker is an oversimplification – as if the unique qualities and traits, skills and abilities, talents and experiences us moms bring to the table are not being recognized. When someone calls me a Soccer Mom – even if they are well intentioned – I feel put into a box, lumped en masse, fallen victim to the misguided assumption that everyone feels the same, reacts the same, and has the same experiences.

The term Soccer Mom conjures images of a mom standing in the laundry room putting Spray-N-Wash on dirty socks, filling the water bottle at the kitchen sink (or the filtered water from the refrigerator), or sitting in her SUV waiting for practice to end to drive the car pool.

Don’t get me wrong – I HAPPILY do each of those things.

BUT, in addition to all of those things, like most moms AND DADS, I do much more.

We are also the on-call sport psychologist, often the physical therapist, the voice of reason, the encourager, the teacher, motivator, advocate…

We bring a lot to the table when it comes to our child and their sports, and our opinions and thoughts matter when it comes to our child.

What bothers me about being called a Soccer Mom – it’s the mere act of falling victim to classification.

I’ll never forget, many years ago, talking to the coach of one of my children after training one day. It had been an unusually stressful few weeks with their soccer and I started getting noticeably emotional as we discussed my underperforming child. In an effort to calm me, the coach said, “You’re such a Soccer Mom.”

In that moment, I felt powerless to the assumptions the coach was making about me. In that moment, when I wanted to work with the coach to come up with a solution to help my child – my skills, experience and abilities to help and assist were not being recognized.

Calling someone a Soccer Mom and therefore making assumptions about how they feel or how they will act is no different than assuming the athletic looking father will act a certain way, or the young coach will say certain things, or the female soccer administrator has certain opinions.

There’s so much we need to do in order to improve youth soccer. We have to establish an environment where the focus is on player development and character development instead of winning; we have to entertain a cultural shift in youth sports to where parents are viewed as a solution, not as a legendary villain; we must remove the bully coaches from our kids’ lives; we need to join forces as an advocacy group to ensure U.S. Soccer makes decisions with ALL of their members in mind…the list goes on and on.

To improve youth soccer – all parties – U.S. Soccer, member organizations, leagues, clubs, administrators, coaches and parents – need to work together. COLLABORATE.

Calling me a Soccer Mom or making assumptions about each other does nothing to support an environment of collaboration.

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U.S. Soccer must collaborate with their member organizations such as USYS, US Club, AYSO and SAY when making decisions such as birth year registration, goal size changes and playing standards. These member organizations, to their credit, have started to build bridges and communicate on a technical level – they need to build upon that even more. Clubs within leagues, although competing for championships, need to share best practices. Coaches within clubs must collaborate to ensure each child is playing at an appropriate level based on their athletic potential and mentality.

Collaboration from a SoccerParenting perspective means coaches and parents communicating, working together, each having a role in ensuring that the development of the individual, not just the player, remains a priority amidst the youth soccer environment.

Coaches and parents each possess a unique piece to the puzzle of youth soccer when it comes to the development of the individual. Independently they have experiences and perspectives that are even more valuable and impactful if they work together. If the coaches and parents work together to complete the puzzle – the result is a healthier youth soccer environment and, ultimately, healthier children.

Three decades of research on parents and teacher collaboration in our educational environment has demonstrated that parent/family involvement significantly contributes, in a variety of ways, to improved student outcomes related to learning and school success. “Schools that recognize the “interdependent nature of the relationship” between families and schools and value parents as “essential partners” in the education process will realize the full value of this collaboration.” (Carter, 2002)

We need clubs and coaches to see parents as “essential partners” in the youth soccer experience. If they don’t, then youth soccer remains only about winning and player development – and we don’t take full advantage of the character development lessons.

Of course, there are character lessons that can be learned without parents and coaches collaborating – but the impact will be greater when coaches and parents have more of an “interdependent” relationship.

When a parent or coach looks at another parent or coach and makes assumptions about them, theorizes about what they are feeling or how they are going to react based on who they are, we are not maximizing the potential of the relationship between parent and coach and experiencing the complete ability youth sports has to positively affect the child.

The change we seek in youth sports to ensure it is the most positive and uplifting environment for our children IS possible. It will be accomplished when parents and coaches begin cooperating, listening, affirming their differences and opinions, actively forming connections and learning from one another – not through assumption, conjecture, arbitrary reactions and possibly even intolerance.

There’s no room for “Soccer Mom” or “one of those dads” or “young coach” in these conversations that concern the children. All there is room for is building trust and seeking cooperation.


About the Author Skye Eddy Bruce

Founder, SoccerParenting.com Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF “B” License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.

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