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My Goalkeeper’s Journey: A Parent’s Perspective

Amplifying the experiences of the parents of goalkeepers will bring our soccer community together!  We asked parents to submit short stories about their goalkeepers. We wanted to hear about the developmental experiences they have had, the struggles, setbacks and celebrations, and even the funny experiences.  Thanks so much to the parents who took the time to write and share a picture of their goalkeeper - because it is through these stories we will develop greater empathy, understanding, insights, community - and feel a stronger connection to the game.

Braxton McCoy

Never in a million years did I think I would be a soccer mom.  Baseball....for sure.  Basketball...likely.  Yet here we are, eating and breathing soccer.  Braxton started off in Rec soccer to get some additional conditioning for...you guessed it, baseball and basketball.  Well, he immediately fell in love.  Next thing you 

know, one of the academy coaches noticed him on his Rec team as a goalkeeper and said "Are you Braxton's mom?  He really needs to join the Academy team." Thank you coach Henry Mendez with SKY Soccer in Bowling Green, KY! We had no idea the level of competition and skill he brought to the game because again, we weren't soccer parents.  Next thing you know he's on the club team and his middle school team!  Today he starts for his JV high school team and is backup keeper for his varsity team.  Still playing club and loving every second of it!  We are still learning the difference in a corner kick and throw in, but luckily, we at least know that his job is to keep the ball out of the goal.  The most important think I've learned though is to walk away when they are tied and have to do PK's.  Nothing compared to that thrill for him, but my heart just can't take it.     

Lucas Sewell

I am a parent of 2 soccer players (one of whom is a keeper), a volunteer coach, and an ex-soccer player, among other things.  I honestly don’t even remember how my son became a keeper for his team.  I don’t remember when he made that choice, or if we even discussed it.  And it wasn’t until about 2 years ago when another mom remarked to me “being the parent of a goal keeper is really hard” that my eyes were opened to this truth.

As the coach of my son’s team for 6 years (from 3rd through 8th grades), it was often hard to distinguish

between Coach and Mom when my team was on the pitch.  But when Lucas was in the goal, I think I was most often Mom.  In my opinion, the keeper has the hardest and most visible job.  You can see the despair when a ball gets passed them.  You can (sometimes) see teammates getting angry at their keeper when the opponent scores.  No matter how many times I remark “if the keeper is getting the ball, then the opponent has already beaten between 1 and 8 other players” (in our 9v9 games), Coach Mom wonders if her son still feels like it’s his fault.

My son is proud to be the goalkeeper on his team.  He has played in this position on our Recreational team, for his middle school team, and now for a team made up solely of youth referees (which is probably another story all in itself!).  He is a freshman playing on and against teams made up of 9th – 12th graders.  The pace is fast, the shots are strong and the play is SO FUN to watch.  Do I find myself worrying about the safety of his body?  In every single game, yes.

Being the parent of a keeper is hard.  Why?  Because the position is unique on the soccer pitch?  Because my kid might be afraid when he’s in the goal?  Because there seems to be a paucity of goal keeper training available?  Because I am worried that his teammates will place the blame on him?  Because I’m concerned for his safety? Yes, all of those (for me at least).  And probably others that I can’t articulate.  And yet….there is so much beauty to be found in parenting a keeper.  To witness Lucas’ teammates encouraging him after every goal scored against him, to see their understanding of how brave he is to don his keeper jersey and gloves game after game, to watch him grow as a leader on the field, these are small miracles that I hold onto.  Both as Coach, and as Mom.  I am so proud of my keeper, and all the other kids who sign up to step onto the field in the hardest position out there.

Thank you for highlighting Goalkeepers!

Isaac Brandstrom

Being a Goalie parent is nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. One minute you are surrounded by praise for an amazing save and the next you hear grumbles in the crowd after a shot that went in. Its $$ spent on extra gear, late nights and long drives to get the extra training in, clinching in fear every time a cleat lands inches from your keepers face. This summer I watched my son lay flat on the ground after taking a ball to the face and being knocked out cold. At the end of the day we would not give 

any of this up. Our oldest son Isaac is an incredible keeper and this year is starting Varsity for his High School after taking the spot last year later in the season as a Freshmen. There is a young man (8yrs old) who loves to be a ball shagger at games. They have created a great friendship and now is the only person allowed to shag balls behind Isaacs net. After one home game this young player walked up to my son with his goalie gloves and a sharpie asking for my sons autograph. . This young man called his big brother (who is playing D1 soccer) and told him he wants to be a goalie just like Isaac. Its moments like this that make this all worth it.

Claire Allen


"Mom, no one ever remembers the mistakes field players make, but everyone remembers the mistakes I make." 

My Response: 

"Yup, this is true. I agree with you, there's no denying this."

We're still learning how to support her mentally and emotionally after a loss. It's tough and a fine line on what to say and how much to say. And how help teach the the mental toughness that is needed for her position. Games that were close that end up being a loss, more often than not she feels she lost the game or didn't do enough or if she had done this differently on a certain play they would have won. The pressure is high and you don't want to see your child "beat" them self up. 

Eli Wichlinski

In Eli’s first year of playing Goalkeeper 100% last year (U12), he scored (3) goals directly from punts!  No one had ever heard of scoring 1 and he did it 3x.

Haley McNatt

I will forever cherish always cheering my daughter Haley on on the sidelines, spraying her down with a hose after a muddy game in the net, cleaning and bandaging her shins after getting turf burn from sliding to stop a goal but still playing in two more games despite the 

bloody shins, going to the doctors for all the hurts, pains and broken thumb and foot, bubble wrapping her cast on her thumb every game when she broke it after stopping the goal go in the net in a game, wiping all the tears after a hard fought loss cause she always took it as her fault since she is the goalie and last line of defense, driving all around town and to different state’s for her to play the game she so loves to play nothing makes a parent happier!!! #Goalkeeper Mama

Noah Gillinder

Our son, Noah Gillinder, started playing soccer, football, at 4 years old.  From the time he started playing I made him play a little bit of goalie.  He wanted to play in the field, he was able to run around more and be involved in the game more. But as a former goalkeeper with him 

being my son I was able to work with a little bit extra about goalie basics.  

As he continued to play soccer each season he improved and just before his 8th birthday he started playing with a local academy to help grow his skills.  He continued to play some as a goalie but he was mainly a field player.  This continued for the next 5 years.  When he switched clubs for his U12 season they did a Winter Futsal league and as the youngest player on the team he ended up playing goalie.  With the faster pace and smaller field he had a lot of fun playing goalie and it started him thinking about wanting to play goalie more perhaps full time.

That Summer he played with a special select team with his new academy out of Charleston, SC about 2 hours from our house.  This team had a great Summer winning both of the tournaments that they played in. He came back and told his coach that he wanted to switch to goalie full time.  The funny thing was his coach then told him two things.  First that at 12 he was too old to switch to goalie and second he was too valuable as a field player to switch to goalie.  

So that season he started sharing goalie with another player and he started playing a year up and would guest play as a goalie 2 ages up at times and did really well.  That October we had to evacuate our home for Hurricane Matthew.  As we were packing up our van to go back to our house I got a call from his coach.  His club had a number of locations in NC and SC and they had selected a group of kids to go to the Surf Cup in San Diego in January.  And Noah had been selected as one of the two goalies.  To go from a field player to being selected to this team in just two months made us both feel he had made the correct decision.  

While he was now mostly a goalie he continued to play some in the field to keep up his foot skills.  Since then he has had two assists as a goalie and he scored a goal, on a free kick, in the 2019 Dallas Cup as the goalie.

Currently he is in Gelsenkirchen, Germany pursuing his dream of becoming a professional football, soccer, player.

Tess Kim

To help our goalkeeper, I try to find resources like webinars, videos, etc.
And I relay any learnings to her on the way to practice or in the parking lot if we arrive early.
But she is quick to tell me that I am NOT a goalkeeper coach. (Her way of telling me that she doesn’t need to listen to me.)

One day last year, we were listening to a webinar on the way to practice. When we got to the parking lot, her goalkeeper coach walked over to the car so I put the car window down. He heard the webinar playing and said ‘I was just listening to the same thing!’ I still remind her of this, occasionally…

If you are interested in our other Goalkeeper Week content curated specifically for youth soccer parents, you can check it all out at the Library at SoccerParentResourceCenter.com.


Tommy Artale

My son is new to youth soccer as of this fall '22 season.  He has been asking to play for a while now, and after making room in a busy schedule (oldest just left for college, and his 11yr old sister also playing on a travel team), we realized it was time for him to get his chance to play.

He was lucky; there was a travel team for his age group (U10) that was looking to start a "b" team.  Well, he got his chance!

I'm pleasantly surprised to see how interested he is, and also how self-

motivated.  Oftentimes I look outside and he is taking shots on the small goal we bought.  Or, he is asking my husband and I to take shots on him -- because he loves goalkeeping.

The boys have had a rough start to their season -- as most of them are new to the sport.  But as you know with 8, 9, 10yr olds... they are extremely coachable.  This crew is no exception.  They have lost every game so far (about 3), but they are improving each time.  Losing by fewer goals, passing more, talking more, etc.  They are taking more chances, understanding the importance of creating space and the overall process of the game.  We are also lucky to have some parents/grandparents on the sidelines that used to be coaches.

Tommy is so determined to be a goalkeeper.  I have no idea why!  Usually kids don't want to be in there...  But he does.  One of those former coaches (grandparent) on the sidelines noticed some simple mistakes Tommy was making in the goal.  Hiding inside the net, forgetting to use his hands, etc.  He gave Tommy a couple of very simple suggestions... explaining that he owns EVERYTHING inside the goalkeepers box, being more assertive as players enter 'his' space, etc.  

Well, next game can you guess what happened?  Tommy took every single piece of advice to heart AND put it into action.  He owned that box and was able to block very good shots on goal.

He walked away recognizing that he is the kind of kid that is willing to take feedback and turn it into action.  He is super pumped for the rest of the season, and I have to admit -- watching my son work with no ego, listen and trust people have his best interests at heart, makes me realize as adults these kids can teach us a thing or two as well.

Angie Corona

This is my granddaughter Angie. Angie is now 17 years old and she has been playing since she was 6/7 years old. And for whatever reason or maybe the coach’s saw something in her, she was always put in as goalkeeper. Angie did not back down from the challenge. The first time I saw her play she made safes that were amazing for her age. Angies calling was playing goalkeeper.  

I started training Angie about 5 years ago. Prior to that she did not have a true goalkeeper coach with any team that she played on. Since 

our first training session she has given it her all ever since. That is the one thing that I truly appreciate about her. Plus that she loves and appreciates the great sport of soccer.  

Parker "P" Lienemann

Currently in 4th grade and 9 years old, my daughter Parker (or as we call her "P") started playing rec soccer early having her mom as a coach for a few seasons.  This occurred in Smyrna (just outside of ATL), a 4 year stint in Chestnut Hill / Philadelphia, PA, and back to ATL since 2020.  Throughout her journey she played well, but truly recreationally, which was enjoyable for her and us.  

In 2020 she was asked to attend a camp with a local Smyrna squad that was looking to expand their girl rosters for below 12.  She attended the camp, was told she was athletic, coachable and would be asked to join in the spring.  Although I can't recall her admitting this, I think she was keen to play goalie because she doesn't enjoy running very much and liked the goalie gloves.  

As the squad grew and higher talent was recruited, I watched her struggle.  As an observer, the others appeared to have more experience and as they aged, had advancement breakthroughs she just didn't realize.  Despite this, she never shy'd from her positional duties and on various occasions played with older girls to fill in for absent goalies.  

Winter 2022 she realized things were moving fast around her and she talked with us about not being left behind and keeping pace with the others.  She took practice more seriously, worked the hardest I've seen her work, drilled, worked with a coach outside of squad practice and her play improved.  

As she headed into spring and summer 2022 her improvements were noticed and acknowledged by coaches, players and parents and I believe it encouraged her even more.  Fast forward to fall ball, she is captain of her blue team, has earned the team ball a few times, and just last week will be joining the gold team for game time.  And she couldn't be more excited about being a goalie because she is unique on the field and has the opportunity to holler advice to the team throughout the game.

She is so proud of herself and we are so happy for her and love watching the growth, confidence and capability grow in her.  While we all want to win and have the best players on the field, the experience soccer has provided our daughter is really at the core of why athletics are so important for our children.  They are learning life skills including confidence building, learning how to work as part of a team, see the return on the investment of effort and dealing with, and overcoming adversity.  

While we have no idea what the future holds, the above mentioned lessons will hopefully serve her for the long term.

Drew and Nate Offenberg

I have a 2007 and 2008 goalkeeper.  Both of my boys have been keepers almost since they have started playing soccer. They have made their way through rec, local travel teams, academy teams, ODP, and high school soccer teams.  

You can almost always spot the goalkeeper parents because they are never in the same place during the game.  You are typically rotating to the side your gk is playing.  This lends itself to awkward moments when you are standing intermingled with the opposing team parents and you are cheering for a great save amongst a bunch of "awwws"  The first time either of my boys enters the net for a new team, my heart is in my throat.  The first time my older son played in a varsity soccer game, I was asking other parents for Xanax.  I sometimes think the gk parents feel more pressure than the keeper themselves.  My son does not realize how many people may be watching most of the time.  In the end though, I would not trade either of them playing gk for the world... the ups and downs, the stress and relief... are the most intense of rollercoasters out there!

  • Hello it’s parker i like goalie because its so fun and you get to fall on the ground.Being a goalie means you get hurt but have fun, when you get hurt it means you did a good job as well as stopping/blocking the ball. Even if you don’t manage to block it if you tried your best or even tried at all you still did amazing.By Parker Lienemann!!!

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    Skye Eddy

    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.