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Grandma Diaries: What the heck is soccer??

Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2011, at 6:35 PM

(Photo)
A very brave gentleman, whom I do not know, attempts to explain to a group of 5-year olds that they are to "play their positions"--and, no matter what--"Do not pick up the ball with your hands!" This was my grandson's first soccer practice--ever! Day one of a new adventure!
Can't teach an old dog new tricks

When my son Matthew was five years old, we signed him up for t-ball and faithfully took him to all the evening games, fighting off the mosquitoes and watching him stand in the outfield filling the holes in his old shoes with sand. Occasionally, he caught sight of a high-flying airplane and watched until it was over the horizon.

Last night I had a feeling of deja vue, as I watched another little blond-haired boy chasing a soccer ball across a large green field. Other teams of boys and girls were divided up, chasing similiar balls.

Same scenario--minus the sand.

The principle behind t-ball was simple--hit the ball and run the bases. Familiar.

Not so with soccer! I never did understand the game.

I remember when the Dexter School District imported a "REAL girl's p.e. teacher" to acquaint us with all the finer aspects of both indoor and outdoor sports. Ms. Mary McMahon was a breath of fresh air! No more girls' P.E. classes taught by Coach Lee, the boys' football coach! Yippee!

We played softball, dappled in gymnastic floor exercises (a real puzzle for most of us), and SOCCER!

We gathered under the trees at the near edge of the old football field, while Ms. M explained the game; however, no matter how clear the instructions, the game always deteriorated in this scene:

Phase 1: Large group of assorted girls gather in a huge chaotic circle, kicking each others' shins until someone connects with the ball--hurling it all the way down to the opposite end of the field (about 5 miles in those days).

Phase 2: All but the most wimpy girls run like bats outta hell after the ball.

Phase 3: A dozen or so girls reach the ball and proceed to kick it into each other, until the rest of the pack arrive to continue pummeling each others' shins unmercifully.

Phase 4: Someone once again kicks the ball hard enough to send it on its homeward journey back to the high school end of the field. At this point, the entire mob of girls charge back to the starting point as hard as they can run.

My soccer consultant has run off a sheet of terms for me entitled "Soccer Positions Made Easy."

As I understand it, my grandson was supposed to be playing "fullback" last night.

Yeah? Isn't the "fullback" very similar to the "outfielder" in t-ball??

I'm just glad I don't have to do the teaching!


Comments
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Soccer is very popular these days, but so is beer drinking and I don't participate in either.

Have fun, just enjoy the view, and you will probably never understand soccer, just be happy it doesn't require a knowledge of math.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 5:51 AM

I admire all the dedicated adults who give of their time, energy, and expertise to make youth programs work.

My husband and I tried to get our three children involved in sports as soon as possible. I never had the opportunity for this kind of involvement, and I felt the lack of it in my growing up. Sports are a way to stay healthy all your life.

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 6:56 AM

MGD - you brought back good memories by mentioning Mary McMahon. I remember the interpretive dance/gymnastic floor exercise as a good experience. I don't remember exposure to soccer at DHS though - must have blocked it from my memory. Also enjoyed your blog about the Smyth farmhouse at Pyle where your family lived - just didn't comment on that one. I enjoy your blogs - keep them coming - thanks for the memories.

-- Posted by nrgregj on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 3:24 PM

Nrgregj, thanks for the words of encouragement. I often feel as if no one is reading these blogs. I guess it's a good thing that I just love to write--if only to satisfy my own need of expression.

Ms. McMahon was such a wonderful role model! On the days when the boys had the gym, we girls had to meet in that tiny, crowded room up on the top floor of the old high school (next to the study hall). It would have been a horrible experience with any other teacher, but we loved it, because she led us in lively discussions about EVERYTHING! She was one of two teachers I remembered who broadened our knowledge about the outside world. She led us with all the talent of a modern-day talk show host!

In later years, my own daughter was in gymnastics, and the floor routines finally made sense, but back in the old days, it was a total mystery to me!

-- Posted by Madeline1 on Fri, Aug 19, 2011, at 7:54 AM

hello...this is the very first time I have ever written ANYTHING responding to a blog, but I just had to say that the Smyth farmhouse was my home. My dad (loving step-father) owned it and it had been his family home all his life. I lived there all through high school at Dexter High and my sister taught across the road at the Boyd School. I loved that house and everything about it. Due to my fathers' health, we moved to the warmer climate of Arizona in 1957 right after I graduated from high school. Mother & Daddy rented the house to the Giles family. I was dating a pilot who was a cadet at Malden when I had to move away. He and I were married in Arizona in 1958. I can still describe the wall paper in every room in that house! Just wanted to tell this, as the place meant an awful lot to me.

-- Posted by austinlady on Tue, May 15, 2012, at 6:53 PM

Oh,oh! Austin lady, I am so glad you posted here! I've been searching for the specific blog where I wrote about the Smyth farm, but I can't find it!

Of course, my maiden name is Giles, in case I hadn't mentioned it before. Daddy--Edwin W. Giles--was an instructor at Malden Air Base during the 50's. We had to leave Dexter in 1960, when the base closed.

I thought Alvin J. Smyth was the one we rented from, but I got confused when I met one or the other of the Smyths at the steak house in Dexter one day. (That chance meeting would be the reason I wrote the blog that I can't find...)

I, too, remember the old wallpaper. I loved that house and treasure the memories of living there. I cried when I heard that it had burned, and I felt an unreasonable fury, thinking, "If we had been there, we never would have let that happen!!"

You also achieved something that I had dreamed about the whole time we lived in Dexter--You got to date a cadet at the Base! How I fantasized about that prospect! However, I was always too young: Daddy refused to allow it!

Do you have any pictures of the old place? I have a few, but not nearly as many as I would like.

Thank you for the contact! If you'll promise to return, I'll round up some of the old photos and do more blogs on that idyllic picture of rural country life!

-- Posted by Madeline1 on Wed, May 30, 2012, at 7:12 AM


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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net or by phone at 573-722-5322.