This blog has been entirely about Sydney. However, I myself would have loved to see photos and read about my parents when they were younger. So I have decided to publish a post just about me and one of the most important things in my life: soccer.
I will of course not push Sydney into any sport or hobby. Having said that, I must admit as I consider various sports for a young child to take up I cannot think of a better one than soccer. Consider:
- Soccer is great for physical fitness.
- It doesn’t require any specific physical attributes, such as height in basketball.
- You can continue playing well into adulthood. In Boulder there are six separate divisions of adult co-ed soccer plus four divisions for men.
- All you need to play in the park is a ball.
- Soccer is the world’s game and I have found in my travels it is a great opening to the locals.
Here are some specific memories I have from my soccer career.
- My first team was the Newport Hills Marksmen when I was age eight. I signed up with my friend Dave Visse and my coach, an outstanding guy, was Hugh Fiebig. One of my teammates was Adrian Hanauer, now general manager and part owner of the Seattle Sounders.
- At age ten our three local Newport Hills teams went “select”, which means they held tryouts to form one team. I was sick on the first day of the two-day tryouts and vividly remember only getting three kicks in during the juggling test on the second day, yet made the team anyway thanks undoubtedly to the coaches having seen all of us play dozens of times.
- My new team won the state championship for our age division when I was around 13 years old. I was by no means the best player on the team but was selected by the coach one year as the “coach’s pick” for my work ethic.
- I got cut from high school soccer as a freshman, not only from varsity but from junior varsity. The next year I made the junior varsity and was the MVP. My younger brother Jim, trying out the following year, said the coach used me as a motivating example for all the players who were going to get cut!
- I made the varsity program my junior year and was selected as all league that year, a big turnaround from getting cut as a freshman! I was one of two captains my senior year: one guy was selected by our teammates and I was selected by our coach.
- I tried out for the Western Washington University soccer program in the summer prior to my freshman year and felt so ignored I went to the coach and told him if I was going to get cut, I might as well go back home for the final weeks of summer. He surprised me by telling me he was forming an all-freshman team and wanted me on it. I then played varsity my final three years, not playing much my sophomore year but becoming a starter and full-game player on defense my final two years.
- My Wharton team lost in the finals of the All-Ivy League MBA Soccer Tournament when as captain I moved myself from central defender (where I was needed) to midfield to attempt to score and break a tie. We were scored upon instead.
- I played on a third-division Polish team in 1992 – 1993 when I lived there. It was difficult because I was just learning Polish. I practiced with the team but was not allowed to play in games, which is probably good because I had a hard time fitting into the team’s style.
- Working for Cargill, we had a “Europe versus the world” soccer game during the worldwide financial employees conference one year. The Europe team included a semi-pro Belgian and myself in center mid surrounded by nine Dutchmen. I have never played on a team that knew so instinctively how to run off the ball and work for each other, even though we had never played together before that one game.
- In Minneapolis I played on a Division One team filled with Irish expats, including a handful of supposed ex-IRA members who were so crazy on the field we were often marked in advance by the refs. The post-game beers were fun!
- In Red Lodge, Montana there was no organized soccer for adults. I started a weekly indoor pickup game that lasted the four years I lived there.
As is apparent, I was usually not one of the best players on my teams when I was younger. I was, however, great at following the coach’s directions and always very motivated and competitive. As everyone has aged, though, I have definitely become comparably better. I must admit I feel I am sort of at the peak of my soccer career now at age 52. Consider these recent accomplishments:
- I was quite lucky to join the Pellmans soccer team when I moved to Boulder 14 years ago. It has produced my best friends in Colorado.
- As the team started to age, I noticed people dropping out. I went to the city’s Parks & Rec Department and helped them start an O40 league. We have now been playing five years (ten seasons) with six teams.
- Our Pellmans Old Guys team in the O40 league has won the league four teams, more than any other team, under my management. Our final victory and my final official game in Boulder came last night.
- I am still playing on the regular Pellmans team, which since separating from the older players has gradually moved up and now has been in Division One for the past three years. I am very likely the oldest guy in the entire Division One yet still play central defender with our player-coach asking me not to sub out most games. At age 52, I am not the fastest nor most skilled by any means but I have good instincts for defense and can quickly pass the ball to my teammates on offense.
- We have been attending a tournament in Las Vegas the past ten years. In both 2017 and 2018 we won our 16-team division in the Over 48 bracket. In each year, we let in only one goal in six games!
- I even co-created the Rocky Mountain Adult Soccer Tournament here in Boulder, now in its second year, with my friend Luca.
I am sad to be leaving Boulder. Losing my soccer community and friends is only one of the reasons but it is a big one.