After a couple of weeks of clear messages from Vince that he would never play soccer again, he played his first after-tryout game yesterday with a team from Parkway Youth Soccer. After ten years of constant participation in , it seemed like something of a betrayal. Youth Soccer
The Parent Imperfect must admit that he had formed certain misconceptions about that “other” soccer system in West Roxbury that is, of course, so different from what exists in Jamaica Plain. Parkway maintains a small league for high school players who aren’t playing on their school teams, giving them a chance to keep playing team soccer, if they so desire. The PI now values this more than he did a couple of weeks ago as an important service to the community. Registration ($55) provided Vince with a nice, powder-blue jersey and membership on the most diverse team he has ever played on. Not only was there a mix of high school students of different cultural and racial backgrounds on the field (anything that creates such an environment among Boston high school students deserves praise), but there were even GIRLS on the team.
Vince’s team, which happens to include two players from the junior varsity team from his school, won, 6-2, and Vince played well. He was not impressed with the quality of play in the league, but seemed happy to be out there playing. Having brought his satchel of misconceptions with him, the PI expected to see aggressive coaches shouting at players from the sidelines, but both coaches (one Caucasian, one Latino) seemed to be modeling good behavior with their players. Maybe this was because this was not a collection of the “top” players being coached by the most successful coaches, but it was a very nice environment, regardless of why it existed. It does deserve mention that the girls on the team certainly spent more time on the sidelines than the boys. Vince played every minute of the game, even though it was his first with the team.
The PI knew none of the other parents and so missed that sense of community with Jamaica Plain parents who have been watching games together for so many years. In fact, none of the parents seemed to know each other, but youth soccer need not be about the social lives of parents.
It turns out that Jamaica Plain Youth Soccer went out of its way to field its own teams of high school boys and girls not on their school teams. Vince also provided fierce resistance to signing up for this team, but relented when two friends who are playing on the school team said that they also wanted to play with this team. This is a boys travel team (the girls have their own) that will play its first game today in Natick. The PI is interested to see how the two experiences of Vince trying to keep playing soccer compare. Whereas all of the Parkway games will be played in the friendly confines of Millenium Park in West Roxbury, this JP team will offer the PI and Liz the opportunity to spend more afternoons traveling to the suburbs to watch soccer. They obviously needed to be more careful about what they wished for.