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2003: maximum youth soccer!

During each season, Saturday was generally game day. Here is the schedule of a random Saturday during the Spring leagues. Gotta love it! And we did.

By the fall of 2003, we had five out of our six children playing soccer every week. That is all of the boys!

For the parents, that meant at least one match per week per boy, not to mention the training sessions, about two per week per boy. Nick was kind enough to drive himself to his indoor soccer games, but the rest of the boys depended on the parents to meet their constantly shifting schedules. In fact, they also depended on Nick at times when there were too many conflicting games for even both parents to handle.

For example, Alban would have a competitive tournament “over the hill” as we say in Santa Cruz, meaning normally on the Peninsula (e.g. Palo Alto) or in the in the South Bay (e.g. San Jose) or East Bay (e.g. Pleasanton) lasting all day Saturday and Sunday. That effectively took one parent out of circulation in Santa Cruz all weekend.

Then two of the three other Saturday games would clash, and of course were never on the same field! The other parent would drive to one of those games, meaning that both parents are now irremediably busy, and Nick would be drafted in to drive to the other. Thanks Nick! Your car was a good idea after all.

I was in heaven watching as many of these games as I physically could. I’ve always liked watching soccer, from a young age when my dad and I did so together, mostly on the BBC. Watching when one of your own children is playing is much more satisfying and engaging!

Alex played his first game of organized soccer on March 8, 2003. He scored his first goals, two of them, on March 15. Alban refereed that March 15 game, keeping it all in the family! By November, when this was taken, he was a seasoned veteran.

The fall season was Alex’s second season with the Happy Valley under 8s in the recreational league. He was in heaven, and lived for his Saturday games and midweek training sessions. His 2003 Xmas list included a soccer ball, goalie gloves, and a Manchester United shirt with Ruud van Nistelrooy’s name and number on it. He got them all!

His 2004 Xmas list included a soccer ball and goalie gloves. He got them too. We’re not growing out of this in a hurry!

I have to go back and figure out when Charlie first started playing organized youth soccer. He was five or six, I think. He was eight years old by the time of this photo in 2003, still loving every minute of it.

Charlie graduated to the Under 9s developmental league, a new league in the area put together by a group of local coaches and soccer afficiandos. Their goal is to help the young people develop by giving them better competition, in and out of their teams. Great idea, guys! Charlie had a great time playing at a higher level. Thanks in particular to Paul and Lynden Gooch for their respective contributions: a great and hard-working coach, and a little dynamo of a player who inspires all around him to better things!

Here is more of Paul and Lynden, with their Fall 2005 team.

Alban in his new uniform, the Arsenal. There are always several local teams at each level (except for Class 1), giving plenty of opportunity for boys and girls to take their pick from among the local teams. Alban moved to find a better coach.

After a year with the Aptos Aftershocks (so named because the boys in the team were all born around the time of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989), Alban moved on to the Santa Cruz Arsenal, another local under 14s Class 3 comp. team. He had a rewarding season.

We had let him down earlier in his playing career when we decided erroneously that we just didn’t have the time to cover a competitive team for him as well as recreational teams for the other children. We figured out how to do it this 2003 season, although to be honest this was the first season that it was easily feasible. The key factor was Nick having his license and being able to drive the third car, which was all new.

Tom in the individual picture for his team, again taken in November 2003. They had a picture day at Harvey West Park, and all the teams were given times throughout the day. We had four attendees!

Tom was our late starting soccer player, after two years of rugby in France and a year in Pop Warner football. He played under 14 rec., and scored a couple of great goals that we saw, as well as a few more that we heard about. He’d really regretted being unable to locate rugby here after enjoying playing so much in France. But beginning with this season, he began to share our other boys’ pleasure in soccer.

Finally, Nick played for a comp. team too, but in addition was Assistant Coach of the Happy Valley School Mustangs, an under 12 rec. team. Here he is with his Co-Coach and young charges on the day that each received his or her reward for playing for the team.

Logically enough, the Happy Valley team received its trophies or medals for the season at Happy Valley School. Nick was letting his hair grow that year!

Logically enough, the Happy Valley team received its trophies or medals for the season at Happy Valley School. Nick was letting his hair grow that year!

Except for this last photo, the photos on this page cover the fall season. There was also a spring season, co-ed at the younger ages (like the team Nick was coaching), and indoor in the summer. Our boys wanted to do it all, every season! And so they did. We could fit it all in, with a little help!