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originally posted May 17, 2010.

soccer_goalieThere she was, my baby, decked out in blue mesh vest over her soccer uniform, goalie gloves on, with a wide leg stance watching the other team’s limber little blonde drive the ball towards the goal without any challenge from our team. I saw my daughter’s concentration as the other girl poised to kick and…


Wham! The ball sailed right by her and the other team scored on us. Again.

For reasons I can’t understand, my 10-year-old daughter has decided she really likes to play goalie for her travel team’s soccer games. This, despite the fact that her team has young defenders that let the other team get through a lot and that they are facing teams that often have more experience.

Not to mention that, as her mom, it is really, really hard for me to watch.

Yesterday, they got beaten 6-1. She was in the goal for 4 of the goals the other team scored. As she got in my car to get home, I prepared to give her what I figured would be the inevitable pep talk. Although it is the whole team that gives up the goal, it is the goalie that feels it most personally. I mean, didn’t they kill a dude in South America for letting in the winning goal during an important game?

When we got in the car, I noted first her sunny disposition. Was she in denial? Or just distracted as a 10-year-old can be? Nope. Turns out she’d thought plenty about what had happened during the game. She started talking about it during the car ride. And this is what she taught me:

1. Look at the big picture.

“Mommy, did you know that they tried to score on me 13 times?” she began. “And of those 13, I only missed 4.”

Lesson: Look at the big picture, and preferably see it as a glass half full.

2. Notice where you have room for improvement, but don’t beat yourself up about it.

“I’ve learned to come all the way out to the goal line when I do the throw in, have you noticed? I used to throw it from wherever I was standing, but now I learned to come way out. I could still learn to throw a bit further, but I’m much better.”

Lesson: You can always get better, but you rock just as you are too.

3. Take others’ criticism with a grain of salt.

“There’s a girl on my team who always yells at me and says ‘Move forward!’ ‘You let them score!’ But you know what, Mommy? She doesn’t make me feel bad because she’s never played the goalie position, so she can’t know how hard it is. When you come too far forward, sometimes they get around you and score behind you. I am doing the best I can and I know that.”

Lesson: It’s easy to “criticize”, but much harder to “do.” So don’t take the critics’ words to heart.

4. Sometimes, even when you do your best, you fail.

“You know what else, Mommy? Even the best goalies let in goals. Even the professionals.”

Lesson: My kid is awesome. Er, I mean, doing and failing is better than not trying at all.

5. Always be on the lookout to improve.

“Mommy, can I go to goalie training camp this summer?”

You sure can, my soccer champ, you sure can. Win or lose, boy, does this girl’s wisdom make me proud.

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