Chris started his soccer career in the U-6 division of Turlock Youth Soccer in 1995. I think he had three touches on the ball all season, and was the only kid on the team not allowed to take goal kicks when he played keeper. He didn't score a goal until he was nine, and was never an All-Star in our weak city league until this year.
Chris is shaping up to be a classic late-blooming athlete. But this means that both he and we, his parents, have had to swallow a number of hard episodes over the year. When he was nine and playing baseball, he was the kid whom when he came up with the game on the line, one parent remarked too loudly, "Oh no, he's coming up". When he was twelve, he kicked a ground ball in the outfield and a parent came to the dugout and demanded the manager take him out, for Chris's benefit, of course.
But all that was prelude. Last summer, when Chris was looking forward to high school, we discussed how he wanted to be involved. He said that making the soccer team was one of his goals and I told him that I didn't think it was very likely unless he would put in extra work. Well, he took that to heart, and has trained and worked out six days a week since late June. It paid off in our youth league, where he was the leading goal scorer on our championship team, and it has now paid off with a spot on the high school team. I really admire the way he responded.
I was nervous for him going into the tryouts, but it wasn't about whether he'd make the team. I was worried because his tryout was the first thing he has worked really hard for that had the possibility of rejection or failure, and I was nervous about how he would handle that if it happened. Now I guess we'll have to wait for something else to see how he handles a significant disappointment. Tonight, I get to watch him deal with success, and I like that a lot.
Edited on 11/21 to make the last paragraph a little better.