In prior years, most of our sports have been soccer, or football as they call it in England. We’re still doing a lot of soccer, but 2009 included other sports, involving varying degrees of commitment.
First, golf. Maman has been a proponent of golf for the last couple of years. Coincidentally, she is a big fan of the café at the local neighborhood golf course, Delaveaga, only ten minutes from home! Lots of nice people there: really!
For a while, she liked to see Charlie and Alex play at a smaller nine-hole course in Scotts Valley. Perhaps “see” is not entirely literal, because she liked me to escort them there as well. I enjoyed that too. It was a fun new shared activity, but did not last long. The boys went to the driving range at Delaveaga, the larger course near home, quite a few times, and to the nine-hole Scotts Valley course a few times, and then it all fizzled out.
I may have had something to do with that fizzling. Marie-Hélène bought me a set of golf clubs for father’s day, and I barely even opened them. Golf just wasn’t my thing. Perhaps when I get older I’ll take it up, but right now bicycling locally feels both much more fun and better exercise.
From the moment I saw them, the golf clubs seemed a bizarre choice. She was very enthusiastic about golf all of a sudden, although not to the point of playing it herself, and if her own enthusiasm didn’t rise to the level of playing the game, why would my lack of enthusiasm rise any higher?!
To be frank, I had the suspicion that the clubs were not a very well-meaning present – things in the couple had already severely deteriorated – and they were so obviously not at all me. I never did know what to do with them, and finally gave them to a friend, unused, years after moving out.
But until boredom set in, and I think that it set in for the boys almost as soon as it did for me, we did share a fun few hours together. I took the camera one Sunday morning to the Scotts Valley nine-hole course, and brought home the pictures of the boys at play there that you find on this page. It was a fun outing. At their age, they find so many fun things to do, without even trying. Being on a golf course gave them more ammunition, that’s all.
When the course manager permitted them to do so, Alex and Charlie could go around the nine holes by themselves, and enjoy themselves for over an hour with no supervision. Another reason for the parents to like the game! Unfortunately, the course manager could, and did, oblige a parent to accompany them. To be fair, having watched the boys play around the lake in the middle of the course just once, I do understand why she may prefer to have a parent supervising. The lake alone harbored too many temptations for growing boys. For example, they happily plopped several balls in the water with me trying to guide them to avoid doing so. Fail!
Next is a sport we see very little of, but which Alban has indulged in regularly and often for years, skateboarding. We don’t see it because he does it in town, both at skate parks and other skater hang-outs, and because he does it with his friends, and not his parents. Entirely understandable when you 19-20 years old, as he was this year.
I have never watched him skate outside of the house in the years that he has been doing it. There does not seem to be a formal organization for the casual skaters, or even spectators for them outside of the skater’s peers. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that teenagers like to skate, because they mostly do it on their own. The only way that we have any photos of his recent skateboarding is thanks to his peers, one of whom took the above shot.
Skateboarding of a sort did happen at home. Alban got it into his head that he could skate the trampoline. Right. He taped an old pair of sneakers to an old skateboard (they are damaged and destroyed regularly in normal use. This one had probably lost a set of wheels) with reams of duct tape. He would jump off the garden wall above the trampoline down onto it “wearing” that board! Perhaps coincidentally, we needed to change the jumping mat part of the trampoline this year, after ten years of faithful service.
Charles took up track and field at junior high, with a short season of practices and meets with other local schools during the spring. At one time or another he ran the 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 4 X 100 meters and 4 X 400 meters, and high jumped and threw the discus. Not all at every meet!
His 4 X 400 relay team won at least one of the meets, and we were there to capture the moment after they were awarded their medals. Look left.
Alright, now that token homage has been paid to various other sporting activities, I can return to soccer, the only one that really matters, with a clear conscience!
In 2009, as in prior years, most of our sports energy was devoted to soccer. Alex and Charlie played in varying competitive teams almost all year long, Nick played here and there in pick-up games, and the parents watched and watched, at least Alex and Charlie. I would have happily watched Nick too, but we never knew when he was going to play, and at 23 he has perhaps a little less desire for the parents to watch!
Several of us attended the occasional professional soccer game, normally the MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes home games. Then in August we saw something very special. Spain’s FC Barcelona, the team that won last year’s EUFA Champion’s League, as well as the Spanish Cup, with the Spanish league championship thrown in for good measure, played Mexico’s Chivas de Guadalajara in Candlestick Park in San Francisco. It was a part of a North American summer tour for the Catalans, and you should have been there.
What a show they put on! Think the Harlem Globetrotters, but in soccer. Barcelona features a few of the best players in the world, like Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry, and a whole team that passes the ball without apparent effort, often without appearing to look or reflect, making the pitch a kind of human pinball table as they weave themselves fabulous and intricate scoring chances. Watching this match was a reminder of why they call football the “beautiful game.”
One of the highlights of our year again involved youth soccer. This time, it was Alex’s turn. By winning the Northern California State Cup, his team qualified to play in a tournament of winners of that and other tournaments, San Diego’s Surf Cup. Sixteen players and their parents duly trooped down to San Diego for a three-day weekend, and in our case that weekend was our longest weekend away that whole summer: we need to work on that!
It was a great weekend. The boys did as well as could be expected, coming from a small county like Santa Cruz and playing teams taking players from all over the Los Angeles area and all over the Dallas area: one win, one loss and one tie. They missed advancing to the quarter finals on goal difference only. This tournament featured the best teams from the Western States, and our boys held their own.
Their only loss was to the LA team which went on to win the Surf Cup this year and is the number one ranked team at this age in the US. How do those boys play so well so young?! Truly amazing. But even though they lost, our boys never let that fabulous team run over them. The final score was 3-1. No shame.
The motel that the team families all stayed in had a great swimming pool, and after the third game almost the entire team spent a couple of hours relaxing and winding down in the pool. That was the advantage of not advancing to the knockout stages: more time to for R&R. We duly profited.