From the Player’s Perspective: My Parents and Role Models
When I was young, I wasn’t particularly interested in soccer. My father was a big soccer fan, but at a young age, I wasn’t captivated by it the way that he was. Finally one year my parents tried to convince me to join a youth soccer league. After bribing me with ice cream and other treats, I eventually said yes. From then on, I spent more than almost a decade playing soccer. It is one of my greatest passions and pastimes, and I am so thankful that I listened to my dad and signed up when I did.
During my time as a soccer player, there were many times I struggled and made mistakes, but because of those difficulties I grew a lot. Whenever I had those problems I looked to my parents and took lessons from their lives and the way they carried themselves. The example they set for me was tremendously important and helped me find more success in and out of soccer. There were countless things I learned from them, but there are a few that stick with me the most.
The Value of Hard Work
Starting soccer a few years younger than the other children wasn’t easy. I lacked a lot of the basic skills and coordination when I first started, and even as I got better, I still was far behind. My dad kept me focused and kept me motivated to keep working. When I wanted to try out for a travel team, he worked with me after he got home from work, running drills to help me get better. This belief in hard work and practice was instrumental to my success.
Looking back, I realize how hard of a worker my own father and mother were. They worked tirelessly to provide for us, and once they got home they had to shuttle us all around town to different practices and activities. For them the work never stopped, but they never complained, and always came through for me and my siblings. If I had only worked one-tenth as hard at soccer as they worked as parents, I could have been even more successful.
Be Gracious and Respectful
Playing competitive soccer was intense. Tempers flare, and there was a time that I’d get into frequent arguments with opponents, teammates, and even my coach. Eventually I was able to mature and control myself a bit more and that was because of the example set by my dad. When I was young, he almost always kept a level head. Whether he was arguing with a family member or having a discussion with a referee at one of my games, he was always respectful.
Win or lose, he was always polite and gracious, and that’s something that I’m proud to say he passed on. As I got older I did my best to always be gracious and respectful in victory and defeat. When I have arguments, I stand my ground, but I always treat the other person with as much respect as I can muster in the moment.
Teamwork Is Essential
Maybe the best lesson I learned from my parents was teamwork. Teamwork is essential in soccer, but it might be even more essential in marriage. Seeing them always working together and supporting one another was so valuable. I didn’t realize how special that type of teamwork is, but after growing up a bit more, I’ve realized how hard it is to really trust someone and always be there for them. My parents taught me how to be a great teammate, and I’ve strived to follow their example in soccer and everywhere else.
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