QUOTE OF THE DAY (OR MORE): "No, no. You don't understand. This is an '89 Calico. I'm pretty sure that exceeds the Kelly Blue Book value. The cat's totaled." --A comedian whose name I forget talking about a vet who presents a $3,000 bill for a 12-year-old cat

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Soccer mom redefined

Recently I joined a women’s indoor soccer league, the kind at which you are not welcome if you are in your 20s or even early 30s, thank goodness. The kind at which, if you are not yet developing those tricep “bat wings," just stay away, thank you. I couldn’t take that kind of pressure…I was deprived as an adolescent and never played girls’ soccer, lacrosse or field hockey because we moved from Philadelphia (where lacrosse and field hockey are played) to Chicago (where they’re not played) when I was 12 years old, at the pinnacle of my adolescent sensitivity and at the height of the chapter in girls’ lives when they are brutally mean to each other. It’s a long story more suited for a therapist than a blog. I’m bitter about it. I ended up continuing gymnastics, which I had been doing since I was 6… In short, I’ve always resented not having participated in soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.

When a friend invited me to join her informal ladies’ soccer league, then, I jumped at the chance to indulge in an activity on which I had missed out (sorry about ending that sentence with a preposition, but go with it…).

I attended my first night in my running shoes, hair pulled back in the familiar ponytail in which it frequently finds itself.

“Are you old enough?” one die-hard gave me an up and down look from a few feet away. I motioned toward the wrinkles around my eyes; “I have a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old,” I whined. I think from afar I’m sometimes woefully mistaken for a younger woman just because of the blonde ponytail. Sometimes when I’m on a run, for example, a car full of teenage boys or a random, young male driver here or there approaching me from behind will beep the horn at me (which scares the bejeebes out of me – don’t DO that to runners, people! I always jump a million feet in the air, and come on! That saps my energy from the run…) and, when I see the age of the beeper, I have to shake my head in sympathy at how pathetically mistaken the horn beeper is – how utterly off his radar was to have beeped at a 38-year-old woman. I often imagine, if he got a good look at me at a red light, he would be like: “oh. oops. my bad.

Anyway, where was I? So unlike me to digress….. Oh yes – my first night at soccer. Fully satisfied that I was, indeed, “old,” my very friendly fellow lady players ushered me onto the indoor Astroturf. Wow. I was really going to play soccer – 26 years late, but still. I was a little nervous.

“Um, you’ll want to get a pair of indoor soccer shoes,” one lady helpfully advised. “Those’ll be tough on your ankles,” she offered, pointing at my running shoes.

Whatever,” I thought. I mean.. these are my running shoes. These things (or the same models thereof) have gotten me through 8 marathons. They’re fine.

The first time I lunged for the ball, very anxious that it had come to me and all eyes were upon me: “can she play?” I’m sure they were wondering. I panicked and did my best to pass it as best as I could to a teammate. Whew. But OW – my ankles were turning every time I attempted to pivot successfully. Hmmm. She was right. Running shoes SUCK for soccer. I had to laugh at myself at how winded I would get for the short chases after the ball. I can run a marathon, for crying out loud, and here I am struggling to catch my breath in a lady’s soccer match. Different aerobic activities have such different effects on our cardiovascular systems, and if we’re not habituated to it, it kicks our asses. (I can only swim a couple of laps in the pool before I’m pretty wiped out…In fact, gardening did me in last Sunday! Lol. All that bending over and chopping down old perennials and cleaning out the leaves from the winter… I had to stop every 20 minutes. The next morning I felt as if a Mack truck had hit me and my back was killing
me… and yet today I ran 8.13 miles at a 7:57 average pace per mile. Lol. )

I persevered and quite enjoyed the game, discovering that these women were in it for enjoyment and exercise (and beer afterwards). This lady’s soccer league, I must say, is the very antithesis of professional male sports. It is all polite, all the time. If two women are both racing toward the ball simultaneously, for example, they will be delicately careful not to run into the other. If it’s a close call and they even brush against each other, they’ll apologize: “oooh. Sorry!” God forbid anyone trip another, and scoring a goal is an occasion for niceties to the goalie as well: “oh! Good try!” If I could count the giggles and the “ooh, sorrys” … well I guess I could. But it struck me as pretty comical, this level of courtesy on the sports field. It’s not without competition; it’s just a really friendly competition. It brings a whole new meaning to the nomenclature “soccer mom.”

The next morning my ankles were sore, and my quadriceps (the front of your upper legs) were REALLY sore – I guess from all that starting and stopping on a dime. I went right out and bought myself a pair of Nike indoor soccer shoes and they are MUCH better.

Oop! So sorry! , gotta go now… excuse me!


  1. Yay to you for trying something new!

    It sounds like you're having fun and challenging yourself, which is a fabulous way to stay young, IMO.

    And you had an excuse for new shoes. What could be better?

  2. LOL, all right...if you're calling me out for subtly bragging about the amount of notes I got in school, then I'm calling you out for the totally obvious "OMG, everyone thinks I'm so much younger than I am" message in this post.

    I always wondered what was up with the horn honking form of flirting. Is it supposed to be a compliment? A first move? I don't understand chicks, but sometimes I understand my fellow men even less.

  3. Natasha - yes- and I made sure they had pink in them so my sons couldn't usurp them since we're the same shoe sizes now!

    Shawn - hey! I was very careful to point out that it's just the blonde ponytail from a DISTANCE. Up close, not so much! lol.

  4. hooray for you--my youngest daughter always wanted to play soccer and has been made at me F O R-ever for not enrolling her when she was a kid. I'll let her read this post, and tell her she can still play soccer!!!

    I'm glad you didn't get hit by the car that caused you to experience "frisson", maybe they were distracted by your pony tail.

  5. LLOL. Oh, Kaye. Your ponytail comment made me laugh... Yes - there's still hope for your daughter! :)

  6. Bat wings, haven't heard that term before but will now start using it. Played soccer all growing up and have had more than my share of bruised shins. You may want to get some guards for those except it sounds like the women are all too polite.

  7. Sounds like fun! I haven't played team sports for 30 years and reading this is the first time I thought I might consider it.

  8. Good and funny point about women sports vs men sports. I would love to be involved in something like this. We're the same age and I feel the same way. Sometimes when a young guy 'accidentally' hits on me I feel like apologizing to him. Like sorry I had you fooled from afar but believe me you do not want what I've got (stretch marks and a crying baby:)

  9. Jen- yes - the ladies have recommended shin guards; I believe I will take their advice this time..

    Drusy - give it a try!

    Kim - You should give it a try, too! (not the young guys - the ladies' sports...lol)

  10. well hey good for you. i have to give anyone credit who physically exerts themselves in any way. I haven't left my office in about 3 weeks, or my chair for that matter.

  11. A women's soccer league sounds like fun! I think it's great how women play with politeness. We don't need that "male" competitive intensity when we are looking to play for fun and fitness. I love your writing style! I'm so glad that I came by to visit :)

  12. Blunt delivery, oh my! I do hope people are bringing you food!

    Septembermom... I get enough of the male competitiveness at home with 2 sons and 1 husband. Thanks so much for stopping by! I will do the same! :)


Please feel free to let me know what you think - especially if you like it. If not, please reconsider (just kidding!) I can take constructive criticism! Really I can...