This past Saturday the Rainbow Nerds played their third game of the season against a Ross Valley club and came away with a 2-2 tie. The tie dropped the Rainbow Nerds out of first place and into third in the final regular season standings. That means our Rainbow Nerds of the Dixie Youth Soccer Association will be opening the playoffs against the eleventh place team in league on Saturday, a club from San Anselmo that we beat two weeks ago 2-0.
Before anyone gets ahead of themselves and starts thinking about the second playoff game on the schedule, we need to recall our earlier win over San Anselmo was not easy. In fact recently they beat the Novato team that is currently in second place, and that Novato team would have ended the year in first had they not been beaten. So the San Anselmo club is one that could easily spoil the Rainbow Nerds playoff party plans.
If nothing else there is a tremendous amount of parity in the league, across the board. The eleventh place San Anselmo team beat the second place Novato team. Our third place Rainbow Nerds tied the eighth place Ross Valley team. Any team can take it all, and that includes my Nerds.
Last year in the playoffs my daughter Skylee found an extra gear and playing fullback she literally shut down one half of the field against the number one ranked Novato team. The Novato team parents on the sideline had me glowing with pride, as I overheard them talking about Skylee taking control of the game. I’m hoping all my team will step up in the same manner this weekend, now that it’s lose or go home.
Actually all the playoff teams will play two games regardless, both on Saturday and Sunday. If we are good and fortunate enough to win both our games, we’ll play in more games the following weekend. If we don’t, life as we know it should go on largely unaltered.
Despite being the coach of the team I am probably the person that cares least about winning. Some of my girls put a lot of pressure on themselves already: on the field, in school, around their friends, and I certainly don’t need to add to that. They need to know that it’s okay just play and have fun, and not take losing a recreation league soccer game too hard. They’ve all got a lot of games left in their futures, and there is no reason to get bent out of shape by any playoff loss, especially after such a successful regular season finishing with a 6-1-1 record.
As the coach my main concern is the health and safety of all my players. An almost equal priority is that the girls play with good sportsmanship, regardless of what the girls on the other side of the field are doing or saying. We’ve heard some trash talk from at least one other team this year, which was pretty pathetic. Furthermore I want my players to have fun, and playing a good clean game is a big part of that. Propping each other up and rising to the occasion, or falling short, but doing it as a team is what good sportsmanship is all about.
Putting everything into perspective at Monday’s rainy practice the team met for a while in a little dollhouse at Saint Mark’s school. Tenacious Claire invited the team into the dollhouse for a ‘tea party’. When the meeting in the dollhouse was over and everyone was exiting she said through one of the windows, “Thank you for coming to Claire’s tea party.”
At this age soccer shouldn't be about winning and losing. It should be about having a good time in a social setting with their peers and getting some exercise and positive reinforcement. If it’s not fun, why play at all? Winning is fun too and I know winning means a lot to some of these girls, but here’s where I as a coach and the kid’s parents need to keep everything in perspective. These are ten and eleven year old girls, and hopefully Tenacious Claire and her teammates will be throwing couple of fun parties on the soccer field this coming weekend, win or lose.