A Team Parent

Soccer season starts in a couple of weeks. There go our Saturdays. Even better, I’m the Team Mom for Mikey’s team. It’s a big job. Mikey says I am now “the entire team’s mom, whether they have a mom or not.” I don’t think so, child.

I volunteered because I saw it as another opportunity to foist myself onto my children. It’s a parenting tactic I learned years ago watching an episode of Oprah with CBS correspondent Steve Hartman. He was there to promote a segment he ran called Everybody Has a Story. The premise was simple. Someone from his studio threw a dart at a map of the U.S. He traveled to whatever town the dart hit. Upon arrival, he picked a person from the phone book at random and interviewed them. He believed everybody had a story. To prove his point, he tossed a dart at the seating chart for the Oprah show and hit a seat occupied by a mom convinced her life was boring. He interviewed her. She had a story.

She was a mom to two grown kids, a girl and a boy. If she had a career prior to that, I can’t remember. The kids were interviewed as part of her “story” and they described her as always present and involved. They gushed that their mom was there for every school event, every performance, and every game. Room mom? Of course. Team mom? No doubt about it. Play Groups? She lead the pack. Her son smiled at the memory. “Mom was always there for us.” Blink. “I mean, whether we wanted her there or not, we knew mom would be there.”

His joke implied she was on them like wet t-shirts, but you could tell he secretly loved his mom’s involvement. Somehow, by sticking to her children like a barnacle, this woman with a story managed to endear herself to them. I knew right then I was going to be a barnacle.

What I didn’t know was that being a team mom in soccer means you need to be more like a shark. Or stingray. A puffy fish? Maybe a tidal wave. Basically, you need to be something with thick skin, an electric personality, a good defense mechanism, and the ability plow through hoards of people without looking back. All this to pick up uniforms.

Yesterday I attended a meeting to discuss my role as a team parent. I didn’t realize team parents attended meetings to learn how to plan pizza parties, but I went willingly and showed up early because I am me. I filled out my forms and settled down on the bench to read while I waited for the doors to open. I looked up twenty minutes later to see dozens of Jersey Maid parents hearding themselves into the hall. Somehow, I missed the announcement the meeting was now in session.

I slammed my book shut and ran inside, hoping to find a seat. The front row had several seats available (my favorite) and for a brief minute I considered myself lucky. Then I realized I was, again, just me. I was also the only one to show up with a three-ring binder, notebook paper, twelve pens, and the team roster.

The only thing I didn’t have on me was makeup, a fact I realized when I scanned the room and saw every other person I have ever met staring back at me, including a random guy I knew from somewhere and see every year on the fields. He only wears licensed USC clothing and his eyebrows are distinctive.

So I sat in my seat and immediately started sliding thanks to the Lycra in my dark rinse jeans. I couldn’t get purchase. If I wasn’t crossing and uncrossing my legs, I was squirming. And scooting. And shifting. Or planting my legs shoulder width apart to create leverage, which caused all my team mom paperwork to slide down my thighs and land at my feet.

Speaking of feet.

I have a bit of a staring problem, as I’ve mentioned in the past. There was a man there who bore a remarkable resemblance to John Irving, one of my favorite authors. He also had feet like cloven hooves. He didn’t walk, he pawed at the earth. I lost a solid twenty minutes of a two hour meeting staring at feet that could stop a car traveling 60 miles an hour.

Then, people in charge talking. The woman handling uniforms said we were required to distribute jersey numbers according to size, and that she was “going to be checking up on us on the field to make sure we followed policy” because this was serious business.

Okay, sounds good. If you need me, I’ll be the one walking in the direction of a life with meaning.

Finally, it was time to collect our team uniforms. Thanks to my decision to sit in the front row (nerd ftw!) I was one of the first team moms in a very long line. I sidled up ready to pluck my spoils from the shipping box.

Denied. Another form missing, another opportunity lost. I went back to my slippery chair, sat down, greeted more people I didn’t expect to see, and tried to hide the two pimples on my left cheek with my limp ponytail. I scrawled in the answers to the missing volunteer form to the best of my abilities using the penmanship of someone who plucks the scales off fish for fun.

Another wait in line, another denial. I followed that one with a torrent of many sharp words and all the love of Jesus in my heart.

Then, a beautiful woman to my left turned to me and smiled. “I know you. You went to high school with my husband and helped put together the 20th reunion.”

To which I eloquently responded, “I!? Yes. Hi! OF COURSE YOU ARE HERE.”

Back to my slippery chair. More paperwork, then back at the end of the line. I was almost to the front when the bushy-browed USC guy took cuts. Go Bruins!

In the end, I walked away with my uniforms and completed my barnacle mission. I was in good spirits walking across the dark and gravelly parking lot. So much so that when I crossed paths with USC guy, I decided to strike up a conversation and see how I knew him. He didn’t know me from Adam, so we started the game where we rattle off business, churches, and schools to make a connection. I started off by asking him if he attended my very large, very Catholic sounding church.

Gasp! Sputter! “NO! You do not know me from there.”

Well, pardon me! I just noticed your dragging knuckles and assumed you were a fellow blood drinking Mary worshiper. My mistake.

It turns out he is Baptist and when I described him later to the Mister (who never forgets a face), he remembered him as a parent at Mikey’s preschool, which was Methodist. Sinner.

I spoke at very high decibels on my cell phone to the Mister all the way home. He didn’t even try to hide his laughter, and I got no sympathy from him. He’s been the assistant coach to every organized team Mikey has joined. He very much looks forward to my miserable company.

An hour later the coach for Mikey’s soccer team called to see how the meeting went and if I had any problems getting the uniforms.

“It wasn’t that bad,” I said. “Nothing to it!”



Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. Rebekah says

    I just got home from my daughters first soccer practice. Earlier today I went to a new student orientation for her school (starting kindergarten). Both the sport and school are new for us; she is my eldest. I would love to be a barnacle, but know I don’t have the strength! All I wanted to do throughout both events today was run the other way, go back home and pretend that we aren’t there yet. I’m so excited for her, but already miss our carefree days of play dough, art projects, and general randomness. Kudos to you for being strong and organized enough to be a barnacle. I’m just hoping for the shock to wear off….

  2. Emily says

    A. Thank you for NOT mentioning me, your overeager barnacle-in-crime, who has not one but two jobs on the board alongside coaching. I can’t imagine the scathing remarks you spared me, my bare toenails, my very official red shirt, and my awful hair. I think I’ll just not think of them right now. (How very Scarlett O’Hara of me!)

    B. You REALLY need to come to a board meeting. You’d have material for weeks. They’re fantastic. We’re talking Very. Serious. Stuff. August 29th. Just…please?

    C. I’m not-so-secretly thrilled that you’re going to be back at the soccer fields, my little breath of freshly-cynicized air. (New word, just made it up. As in, air that was once washed pure by hoards of Soccer Moms, and has since been polluted by cynicism, wit, and…GASP!…a sense of humor.)

    D. I am DYING to run into USC guy now, and cannot BELIEVE I didn’t notice him.

  3. says

    I am forever grateful to moms like you. I am a rule breaker through and through. If someone told me they were coming to check up on my ability to pass out uniforms correctly they would be unable to move because of the chill of my stare. Better yet I would tell all the children to wear the tops inside-out and backwards : )

    • says

      Hah! The coach’s son wants to be #8. As the second smallest child, it’s not going to happen. He’ll be lucky if he’s #3. When I told him that, and that there would be “penalties involved,” he laughed and said he would deal with her on the field.

  4. says

    i was reading along, giggling at this post when i got to the part about staring. oh man. i had this flashback of college where i was staring at someone so hard i didn’t even notice that he was trying to get my attention. i think i was actually mouthing his words. and then i was so mortified that i turned to run. right into the people behind me. i wish that would have stopped me from staring. but i become so enthralled. eavesdropping may or may not be a weakness of mine as well. which isn’t quite as bad as when i interject.

  5. says

    I loved all the stories here, ‘everyone has a story’ is such a brill idea, wish I thought of it! Love that you are going to be a human tsunami. I am sure no matter what your kids will remember you always as being the bestest mom ever. If I wasn’t 800 years older than you I would definitely petition you to adopt me.

  6. says

    Oh, man. This:

    “a fellow blood drinking Mary worshiper”

    made me laugh out loud. I’m not Catholic (I’m one of your Lutheran cousins), but my dad’s side of the family is, and I went to a Catholic high school briefly. I have the greatest respect and sympathy for misunderstood Catholics. :-)

  7. says

    OH MY GOODNESS! I’m cracking up!

    That guy and the millions like him are why my Mary statue is in my back garden and not my front yard. I’m surrounded by them here in Texas. Please, please, please give out holy cards with the snacks after the games. 😉 (I am joking. Just in case nobody gets my warped sense of humor.)

  8. says

    There’s a special place in heaven for the woman who volunteers to be Team Mom.

    Oh, and, let’s hear it for Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s Sacred Heart of Mary Immaculate! Go! Fight! Win!

  9. says

    Oh Jules! Welcome to the world of team moms. I’m in the twilight years of my team mom status. I’ve been a team soccer mom for soccer for the last 13 years. We’re out of soccer players in our family this year. But that’s ok, starting last year, I’m now an wrestling team mom – same fun, different sport. I wonder what I’ll do with my time in 2 years when my youngest graduates high school. So, you do know the most important job of a team mom? The one that will endear you to all the kids, right? SNACKS! Seriously, besides the number of their jersey, that’s the most imporant thing. :-)

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