The Soccer Dad Club Scores One More Member
October, 2006 - Issue #24
Had I been watching the World Cup or something like it, my response last Wednesday afternoon would have been entirely justified.

My favorite player had just taken a pass from a teammate, dribbled past a defender and kicked the ball into the goal - or at least that's what I saw through a pair of more-than-slightly biased eyes.

That favorite player was in fact my 10-year-old daughter Darragh (like "Sarah" with a "D"). The pass? Well it was more of an accidental push of the ball in her general direction.

And as for the whole dribbling past a defender and scoring bit, the closest player was several yards away, and the goal was simply a patch of Valencia Glen Park set off by a pair of little red cones.

My response, however, was anything but parks and rec. I jumped out of my foldable chair and actually cheered. I cheered.

It was only a practice drill - it wasn't even a real goal. But there I was, doing what countless moms and dads have done before me, making a complete fool of myself over something my child does on the field.

So it's official, I suppose. I am a soccer dad.

And what is a soccer dad? I suspect many readers already know firsthand. We Santa Claritans love our AYSO, don't we? How many moms and dads out there have scanned the local paper for their kindergartener's name in the weekly region roundups?

Fess up, now. You know who you are.

Well make a little room, would you? I'm joining your club.

I too am going to run along the sidelines of one of my daughter's games on Saturday mornings. I'll volunteer to cut oranges or bring juice.

I'll pump my fist when one of my daughters wins a free ball, and I'll cringe whenever one of them charges into a crowd or takes a tumble on the grass.

I'll complain about racing from park to park on practice days and I'll grumble about how much I miss sleeping in on Saturdays.

And then I'll see my girls making friends and I'll know it's worth every minute.

I'll watch them learn something new and I'll wonder why I waited this long to sign them up. I'll see them beam when their team wins and I won't even remember what I used to do with my spare time.

"We Santa Claritans love our AYSO, don't we? How many moms and dads out there have scanned the local paper for their kindergartener's name in the weekly region roundups?"
And if either of them ever scores a goal, I'll go hoarse cheering, just as any respectable soccer dad would. I suppose that goes for practice goals, too.

I'll admit I felt almost immediately self-conscious that day at Valencia Glen, at least until the next goal brought a new set of family members to their feet.

What is it, I wondered, that causes rational adults to act so fool-heartedly?

I got my answer about two hours later, when we got home.

"Mom, I scored," is one of the first things Darragh said when she walked in the door.

"Wow, good for you," my wife answered. "Are you hungry?"

I plopped onto the couch and thought about the goal. I remembered the look on Darragh's face when the ball went in. She didn't go half as crazy as I did - she knew better than I that it was only practice.

She seemed actually calmer after she scored than she had looked beforehand. I think it's the look we all wear when we realize we can actually do something - a look we register when we decide there's one less thing in the world to fear.

In defense of my practice-field exuberance, I'm telling myself that that's why I cheered.

It's a noble reason, I believe ... as good as any and perhaps better than most.

Then again, maybe I'm just a dad who wants his daughters to do well. I wouldn't be the first and I won't be the last.

If that's what defines a soccer dad, I'm happy to join the group.
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