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SportsMonday: Winning The Weekend

My daughter Alana had a full slate of youth soccer games this weekend . . . and a couple baseball games, one of which was called after a half-inning due to the lightning storm that blasted through the area Saturday afternoon. It was probably excessive; it was definitely fun.

Regarding "probably excessive," ever more attention is being paid to how youth sports are administered in this area and across the nation. There is growing awareness that many kids do too much, too soon. Alana's parents are hyper-aware of this. Her dad (that would be me, of course) is on the Chicago board of the Positive Coaching Alliance (an organization devoted to improving youth sports coaching and the youth sports experience). But we also want her to have the most fun possible.

You won't ever catch me saying "We weren't sure it was a good idea but we said it would be okay for her to play in a travel league with a ridiculously far-flung and never-ending schedule because she loves the sport so much." Parents who express these sorts of sentiments need to be told, among other things, "Yes and she would love to have chocolate cake for dinner and stay up until 2 in the morning." Clearly the key is to set the right limits. And if anyone knows exactly what those are, please let me know.

If my daughter's schedule wasn't over-the-top this past weekend, it was close. We caught a break when the first baseball game was postponed due to lightning. So there was at least a little less organized sport than was originally planned. That was to have been her second big event Saturday.

Alana will turn 10 in August by the way. She is a determined, strong-for-her-age athlete. Her weekend began when her AYSO house team, which I co-coached, wrapped up its season with a cool little tournament. She played two, 25-minute mini-games the first day of the weekend and then, after sitting out a first half, wrapped things up with the final 12 minutes of a third and a divisional championship game on Sunday.

We lost that last game in a penalty kick shootout but afterward, when medals had been distributed, Alana said something to the effect of "that's okay dad, I like the way silver looks better than gold."

Then it was off to the baseball game at Welles. When we arrived, the sun was shining, the breeze was cool and all was well with the youth sporting world. About a half-hour later we were hurrying kids off the diamond after an electric bolt flashed through the sky out beyond center field.

On Sunday, we wrapped up the house soccer tournament and then Alana dashed off with her mom to a travel game out in Palatine. Her team (one of AYSO District 418's Northwinds squads) has had a better schedule than most, with only one game per weekend in the fall and spring (almost all on Sunday afternoons) excepting a Memorial Day weekend tournament. Half the games are in the suburbs, but except for a trip to Rockford in a couple weeks, the trips aren't too daunting.

Actually, it is oftentimes kind of nice to get on area expressways on Sundays after fighting through traffic weekday after weekday. On non-holiday weekend Sundays, the Edens and the Kennedy often live up to their names, i.e., they actually feel like express routes through the metropolis. The travel team pulled out a solid 2-1 victory, enjoyed a fine snack afterward and made it back to the city in plenty of time for the 5:30 p.m. baseball start. The best thing about the weekend was probably the miracle that none of the baseball or soccer conflicted. But the scheduling karmic wheel will probably come back around and bite us some time soon.

Alana's minor division Brewers team lost a choppy 7-2 decision Sunday evening. It was far from the team's best performance this season, but I'm confident everyone there would have said watching it sure beat viewing the Flubs or the White Flags on Sunday.

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Comments welcome.

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