On The Fence
Bobby Leach "The Rooster" | 6/2/2015, 11:18 p.m.
Standing on the sidelines of an eight year old soccer game in Romeoville this week I was asked by a parent of a player "Did you draw the short straw this week?" referring to my assignment covering a youth soccer game. After a shared chuckle, I replied with a straight face "I actually think there is no better place to be than on a field bathed in sun and filled with happy kids playing a game."
I suppose there are some who would disagree but to be honest, I think there is no greater joy than watching families enjoy golden moments and somehow recording them with my camera. There is a real sense of accomplishment as a sports writer when you afforded the opportunity to get back to the essence of the game and leave the competition angst at the parking lot. It is amazing really that you can put up a net on the field, toss out a ball and watch kids gravitate to it like a moth to a flame.
Snapping photos as the players ran up and down the field chasing down what seemed to be a constant errant ball, I took notice of how the entire event was embraced by fans, coaches and officials. At one point in the game I could hear the official giving encouragement to the players and helping to teach them the game on the fly. Regardless of who was winning, it was the first time in a long time that I saw a glimpse of utopian competition with seemingly everyone sporting a broad smile.
I left the game with a renewed sense of optimism and appreciation for all the volunteers that make it possible for kids to fall in love with sport. It is no small undertaking to provide a safe and positive environment for young athletes to perfect their skill sets while allowing them to actually enjoy the game free of overbearing coaching from sidelines and fans in the stands. Kudos to the AYSO organization in Romeoville for displaying the very best in what youth sport should be about!