Why We Do This

What a gift I was given a couple of weeks ago! While most parents dropped their kids off for soccer camp – I was fortunate enough to go (and stay) with mine!

I decided to return to SoccerPlus Camps to direct a week this summer to honor a friend and coach – Ben Pinkerton – who passed away earlier this year after a ferocious battle with colon cancer. Ben was the National Goalkeeping Director at SoccerPlus Camps and loved the camp environment most especially because of the impact he could have on the lives of the kids and staff.  Ben epitomized the “Best of the Best” leadership qualities and people were attracted to him because they felt better about themselves when in his presence. After 8 years away and in honor of Ben, it was truly a privilege to be back at SoccerPlus for a week – and sharing it with my daughter was the icing on the cake.

My daughter attended a two-week SoccerPlus Field Player camp and I joined her at SoccerPlus for her second week as the Goalkeeper Director for the National Training Center. While we didn’t share any time together on the field because the camps were run separately – I caught glimpses of her in the dining hall, walking with her new friends, before or after a lecture….and these glimpses and my experiences with the goalkeepers at the camp reminded me of Why We Do This.

Operating Outside of their Comfort Zone

What a gift we give our children when we allow them to be in an environment where they have to operate outside of their comfort zone. In a camp, maybe it’s simply the stress of being away from home, or having to eat different food, or having to step up and be a leader. Just simply getting outside of a normal routine helps our children develop and mature. In a club environment maybe it’s getting up the courage to talk to the coach about something they don’t understand, or having to work through a challenging relationship with a teammate.

Finding New Limits

This is certainly on the top of my list of what I love about sports. At SoccerPlus Camps this is especially significant. The camp is designed around a very specific and challenging soccer curriculum. Within the week are two Pressure Training sessions. To an outsider, Pressure Training would appear to be a physical challenge – where campers perform a specific soccer task for 60-120 seconds – oftentimes to the point of exhaustion. To us insiders – those lucky enough to see it – we understand that Pressure Training is truly more of a mental challenge. We witness campers literally transforming their lives in front of us. Many start the session nervous, anxious, afraid they may fail – as is understandable. However, by the end of it, each of these young athletes walks away realizing they are capable of more than they thought possible. They have a new sense of optimism, strong sense of accomplishment and a solid foundation of grit and determination to take home with them. You can clearly see this on the faces of the campers in the picture associated with this post – it was taken moments after Pressure Training ended.  What a gift!

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The bond my daughter shares with her soccer friends is one that is based on mutual respect, sweat, shared competition, inside jokes and a commonality of interest that runs deep. Seeing her developing friendships in the camp environment with people from all over the country was rewarding. Witnessing the bonds with her club teammates continue to grow and develop as the girls do the same is something I love. These are people she can count on in a game – and also in life.

Sometimes I stress about pressure I feel from the media, other parents or maybe, just a bit, from the far reaches of my own mind – about the level of commitment my child (and therefore our family) has made to playing soccer. Just the other day I stood in front of our Family Calendar trying rather desperately to find a night I could write “Family Dinner” on a square. As we return to the rhythm of school and soccer where practices rule our weekdays and games rule our weekends, when before we know it a month will have passed, it’s nice to remember some of the REALLY IMPORTANT REASONS Why We Do This.

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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.