This will be the first season that Yazoo Parks & Recreation has overseen the local youth soccer league, and our family is all in.
We signed up all three of our children to play this year, and this will be our four-year-old son Jase’s debut into the world of sports.
Last year was our daughter Elsie’s first year, and she loved it. Like her older brother James, Elsie scored a lot of goals in the “micro” league.
I’ll never forget the look on her face when she first kicked that ball into the net. It was like she suddenly realized, “I can do this.” From that moment on she played with a whole new level of enthusiasm. Her team ended up finishing the season undefeated, and Elsie scored in every game.
I never thought that I’d find myself so excited about soccer. When I was a kid in Yazoo soccer wasn’t an option around here. I really didn’t know anything about the game until my children started playing it. Soccer’s popularity has grown tremendously since those days, and you’ll find a crowd at the Wardell Leach Complex every Saturday morning during the youth season.
I had to learn in a hurry.
All of the coaches in this league are volunteers, and men and women with enough knowledge about soccer to feel confident leading a team are hard to come by around here. I helped a little with James’ teams during his first two seasons in the youngest group, but when he moved up to the next level I was asked to coach.
I didn’t feel like I would be capable of leading a team, but I agreed to be an assistant coach.
Our head coach, Kevin Ables, knew what he was doing, and I mostly just did what he asked me to do during practices. During the games much of my energy was devoted to taking photos for the newspaper.
But soon I would be calling the shots during the games. Kevin worked for Entergy, and he had to leave to help restore power after a hurricane.
For four games I was the head coach.
Somehow we managed to win all four of those games. Although I like to playfully boast to my friends that I have an undefeated record as a head coach in soccer, it had absolutely nothing to do with my coaching skills.
I was counting how many players were on the field in the other games because I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know anything about the positions or any strategies. I just knew we needed to kick the ball in the goal.
We usually decided who was going to play goalie based on which player felt like it. If two of them really wanted to do it, they both got a turn. I once was scolded for making substitutions improperly, and I had to explain that it was out of ignorance rather than a conscious effort to break the rules.
Fortunately we had some good athletes on our team, and a couple of the kids already knew more about soccer than I probably ever will.
It was a fun season that I’ll never forget.
Soccer has come a long way in Yazoo. My two oldest children are in love with the sport, and our youngest is excited about his debut on the field. Actually it won’t technically be his debut because once when Jamie and I were caught up in our daughter’s game he wandered onto the neighboring field right in the middle of a match. He seemed to think he was contributing.
If your children have some interest in playing soccer, and you’re hesitant because you don’t know much about it, don’t let that stop you from signing them up. Our family has had a lot of fun participating in youth soccer in Yazoo, and we have made many new friends along the way.
Call 662-763-8087 for details on how to sign up or visit the Parks & Rec office at 50 City Park Drive. The deadline to register is Sept. 15. Volunteer coaches are also needed.