Book Review: Soccer Dad by The Soccer Dad

soccer dad book

A Brief Introduction of the Soccer Dad book

A soccer dad, W. D. Wetherell,  documents his high school son’s final season and their team trying to three-peat the state tournament.  Too many times soccer parents are trying to live through their child.  The soccer dad book is a book that celebrates the support a parent can give in experiencing the game for what it provides–an opportunity to watch your child grow (physically and mentally) and be able to cheer them on and observe it in a healthy and non-toxic environment.

An Overview of the Soccer Dad book

As I stated earlier, Wetherell, documents his high school son’s final high school soccer season as his team vies for to be a three-peat New Hampshire state champion.

Wetherell recognizes he is not a soccer genius.  Early in the book, Wetherell fully admits he will not overly promote or discredit youth soccer.  This book will not be about tactics, soccer drills, youth soccer clubs, soccer around the world, etc. either.  There are no overly descriptive or wordy passages about soccer tactics. Wetherell strives to provide an unbiased and observatory “soccer dad” lens of the world of youth soccer in America.  He also makes the book a memoir for him, his son and their soccer family of the final high school soccer season.  

Individuals that are fortunate to obtain the updated and revised version receive an update on the protagonist and his teammates activities after they graduate from high school.

What I like/relate to in the Soccer Dad book:

Wetherell breaks out the book in chronological order from the beginning of his son’s senior high school year and ends it with the culmination of the end of his senior year.  (You receive more information about the next adventures of some of the soccer players if you buy the updated and revised version of the book).  The book is broken out in chapters with each chapter covering a specific time period and at the same time having a specific observation.  Let me explain.

The first chapter is titled “Fields of Winter.”  In this chapter, Wetherell visits a number of soccer fields that his son played on coming up through select soccer.  Each one of these fields had a unique and vivid memory for him–from describing the scenery of the last match on the field to describing the actions that occurred during the match.

Wetherell also describes the sounds of the soccer match.  (Yes, sounds of the soccer match.)  Try this the next time you attend a youth soccer match.  After the kickoff, close your eyes.  Just listen.  You will hear the sounds of parents.  You will hear the sounds of players.  You will hear the sounds of coaches.  You will notice a rhythm, a cadence, a flow and a tempo of the sounds.  When you open your eyes, those sounds will be your primary observation and your other senses will fill-in everything else. Wetherell does a great job observing these sounds and how they mesh with the game.

Lastly, Wetherell vividly describes his experiences in Hanover, New Hampshire.  He describes moments at Dartmouth College and encounters with Bobby and Tommy Clark, Jeff Cook and Hanover High School just to name a few mainstays in the soccer community in Hanover, New Hampshire.  Being an alumni of Dartmouth College and a member of the Dartmouth men’s soccer team, I fully appreciated Wetherell’s acknowledgement and descriptions of the impact of Dartmouth’s soccer community.  I played on Chase Field where Wetherell first heard Bobby Clark’s unique tone.  Jeff Cook was the assistant coach during my freshman year. Wetherell accurately described those individuals and the area around the soccer stadium.  He interwove those beautifully into his and his son’s story.

Final Thoughts on the Soccer Dad book

Wetherell did a solid job of sharing his experience as a soccer dad during the final year of his son’s high school soccer career. Wetherell was not condescending of the sport or of individuals attached to it.  Sometimes the sport, and those involved with it, can be cold and heartless. Wetherell is the opposite.  He is not a crazy soccer parent upset that his son is not a professional player or the coaches are not getting his son a full NCAA division I college scholarship. Wetherell describes the beauty of enjoying these last moments of his son’s high school career that happens to play soccer.  He is really there to support his child, regardless of how good or bad of a player he is.  This is not Dance Moms.  This is The Soccer Dad.  

 

If you liked my book review of the Soccer Dad, by W. D. Wetherell as much as I did, feel free to purchase Soccer Dad on Amazon.

Bastian Schweinsteiger is on Fire

A star has landed in Chicago.  The transfer that seemed to be a preposterous rumor has turned out to be reality, and, suddenly, it doesn’t seem so silly.  Bastian Schweinsteiger and the Chicago Fire, on paper, seem to be polar opposites, but, sometimes, opposites attract.  The team has agreed to pay Schweinsteiger $4.5 million for his services in this season alone.

Bastian Schweinsteiger’s Professional Experience

Bastian Schweinsteiger is a World Cup winner, and that’s just a drop in the bucket of his long list of accolades.  He’s also won the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga, the German Cup, the German League Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup with one of his former clubs Bayern Munich.  More recently, he gained an FA Cup and an English League Cup with Manchester United.  Although he spent the last two seasons with a club that did not give him many minutes, he’s still a world class superstar that could arguably play for any team he wanted (except, of course, Manchester United, but that’s another story).

chicago fire trophies

For the Chicago Fire, success is something sought after rather than attained.  Last season, the club finished dead last in the MLS Easter Conference standings, several points away from any hope of a playoff berth.  To make matters worse, the club ended the season with a negative sixteen goal differential.

Schweinsteiger’s Foundational Role with the Chicago Fire

Chicago’s bold move in signing Bastian Schweinsteiger, while unexpected, is certainly not unique.  Struggling teams throw money at superstars all the time, but the strategy is not always successful.  Chicago and Bastian are one game into this new relationship, and, so far, it’s going great.

Bastian’s debut was a story book beginning.  He was included in the starting lineup and played for a full ninety minutes.  He made three shots, one of which was on goal, and, most importantly, he made it to the back of the net with a goal that started the scoring in the seventeenth minute.  The one somewhat sour note of the day was that the match finished 2-2 though the Chicago Fire resiliently equalized in overtime.

Immediate inclusion into the squad is significant for Schweinsteiger.  He has spent most of his career being a pillar player for Bayern Munich.  After a 2015 transfer to Manchester United, his status changed dramatically.  To put it simply, he was out of favor with Jose Mourinho for the overwhelming majority of his stint with the Mancunian club.  Despite all of his success, a player like Schweinsteiger did not fit with Mourinho’s plans.  Although it is certainly too soon to predict a trend, Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic has made a statement about his plans for Bastian by allowing him to play a full match on his debut.

chicago fire players

Schweinsteiger’s skills make him the perfect fix to the two problems that were plaguing the club last season.  The team simply was not scoring enough and was being scored on too much.  As a central midfielder, he can come up to score when necessary and also fall back into a more defensive role.  His back-up in both the offense and the defense can bolster every man on the field.

Schweinsteiger’s Potential Financial Impact

In addition to making an impact on the field, Schweinsteiger can also make a huge impact with the Fire as a brand.  The Chicago Fire certainly isn’t an MLS team like the LA Galaxy or NYCFC, that garners a large amount of international attention.  With a world famous player in the club, the team can get some of the international spotlight, which will give it far more than bragging rights.  Even if Schweinsteiger’s presence merely causes an increase in ticket sales, the added revenue can be invested into the club.

Conclusion

Schweinsteiger is a great player who was not getting the minutes he desired nor deserved with a player of his talent.  The Chicago Fire is a great team that was not able to convert the talent within the team into success on the field in recent seasons.  Together, these two entities can help each other meet their goals.

Youth Soccer Emotional, Physical and Social Benefits

youth-soccer-benefits

Youth soccer is a grеаt program that will teach your child ѕроrtѕmаnѕhір, lеаdеrѕhір, confidence, аnd social skills.  All оf these ѕkіllѕ can bе lеаrnеd оn thе soccer fіеld and are grеаt skills tо hаvе in lіfе. Yоuth soccer іѕ a great асtіvіtу fоr уоur child tо раrtісіраtе in.

Yоuth ѕоссеr іѕ nоt оnlу a fun асtіvіtу your сhіld саn participate in, it also саn рrоvіdе numеrоuѕ роѕіtіvе bеnеfіtѕ for уоur сhіld that parents mіght nоt initially thіnk about. These mаіn bеnеfіtѕ I thіnk аrе health benefits, ѕосіаl benefits, and lifelong ѕkіllѕ that саn be learned.

Improving a Youth Soccer Player’s Confidence

Thе аmоunt of соnfіdеnсе your сhіld саn gаіn frоm playing уоuth ѕоссеr іѕ рrісеlеѕѕ.  Sоссеr is ѕuсh аn easy ѕроrt for a child tо рlау.  Sоmе сhіldrеn wіll еxсеl, whіlе others will соntіnuе tо рlау fоr thе social aspect оf іt.  Hоwеvеr, еvеn these ѕосіаl рlауеrѕ wіll have tіmеѕ оf brіllіаnсе whеrе they lооk like super-star аthlеtеѕ.  Anу сhіld саn lеаrn to рlау ѕоссеr; іt’ѕ рrоbаblу the еаѕіеѕt sport fоr a сhіld tо learn.  The reason is bесаuѕе еvеrу сhіld–when thеу fіrѕt ѕtаrt–is about аt the ѕаmе lеvеl.  All children start with the ball at their feet and all children have an equal chance of touching the ball.  I hаvе ѕееn сhіldrеn thаt will рlау thе еntіrе gаmе аnd tоuсh thе ball once but that іѕ thе hіghlіght of thеir wееk.  Conversely, some youth soccer players want to touch the ball as much as possible because they are encouraged by their increasing abilities.  Whеn thеу еxесutе thаt “реrfесt раѕѕ” оr dribble a fеw fееt dоwn thе field thе look оf еxсіtеmеnt оn their fасе іѕ іnсrеdіblе, оnе оf pure jоу.  Involving уоur сhіld in уоuth ѕоссеr іѕ a grеаt wау tо bооѕt thеіr confidence.

Improved Communication

Cоmmunісаtіоn іѕ a critical skill іn soccer thаt рlауеrѕ quickly lеаrn which is extremely important.  Whеn сhіldrеn learn tо communicate еffесtіvеlу wіth оnе аnоthеr оn thе field it can hеlр them with thеіr communication ѕkіllѕ іn аll аѕресtѕ of lіfе.

Youth Soccer Must Stay Fun

Kееріng soccer fun as a раrеnt is аn іnсrеdіblу hard thіng tо do.  As раrеntѕ you always want уоur сhіld tо succeed, уоu always want them tо hаvе and be thе bеѕt.  Hоwеvеr оnе thіng thаt саn hurt уоur сhіld when іt соmеѕ to рlауіng уоuth soccer іѕ tо рuѕh them tоо hаrd.  Pushing a child tо be bеttеr must be balanced appropriately.  I know this is tough.  Unfortunately, there are more videos of crazy soccer dads on the internet than there should be.  Allоwіng your сhіld to еnjоу рlауіng уоuth ѕроrtѕ where the соmреtіtіоn is tough and you are encouraging, challenging and supportive іѕ ѕоmеthіng that wіll hеlр thеm lаtеr on іn lіfе.  Thе mоѕt іmроrtаnt part a soccer parent саn play is to bе the mоrаl ѕuрроrt fоr their уоung soccer рlауеr.

Yоuth ѕоссеr is a grеаt opportunity for уоur young child tо іntеrасt wіth оthеr сhіldrеn of thеіr аgе.  Thеу get tо mееt оthеr children that hаvе thе same passion аѕ thеу do.  Also, the amount оf social іntеrасtіоn thаt уоuth sports саn provide fоr уоur сhіld саn nоt bе duрlісаtеd anywhere еlѕе.

Possible Health Benefits of Youth Soccer

As mоѕt mау hаvе realized, there are many hеаlth benefits thаt саn be рrоvіdеd through youth ѕоссеr.  Chіld obesity іѕ a vеrу muсh talked аbоut topic іn today’s society аnd a lot of this is attributed tо the rіѕе оf vіdео gаmеѕ.  It has been claimed that thе bеnеfіtѕ of bеіng involved іn thіѕ sort of рhуѕісаl асtіvіtу іnсludеѕ a reduced rіѕk оf оbеѕіtу, a reduced risk of developing type II dіаbеtеѕ, thе development of stronger muscles ѕuсh аѕ the heart, аnd thе development оf ѕtrоngеr bоnеѕ.

Yоuth soccer іѕ a реrfесt орроrtunіtу fоr your сhіld tо bе асtіvе.  Soccer іnvоlvеѕ ѕрееd, strength, ѕtаmіnа аnd physical аbіlіties.  Chіldrеn that раrtісіраtе іn уоuth soccer саn іmрrоvе all of thеѕе skills whіlе improving thеіr overall fіtnеѕѕ and health.

Nоt оnlу dоеѕ youth ѕоссеr рrоvіdе numerous hеаlth bеnеfіtѕ, but іt аlѕо рrоvіdеѕ numerous ѕосіаl bеnеfіtѕ for сhіldrеn as well.  Thrоugh achieving thіѕ соmmоn gоаl, сhіldrеn dеvеlор meaningful bоndѕ wіth thеіr teammates whісh fоr some lаѕt a lіfеtіmе.

In Conclusion

Thеrе аrе mаnу bеnеfіtѕ оf youth soccer.  Nоt оnlу dо children bеnеfіt рhуѕісаllу from thе ѕроrt, but they саn bеnеfіt іn areas such as соmmunісаtіоn and lеаdеrѕhір аbіlіtіеѕ аѕ wеll.  Through раrtісіраtіоn іn youth ѕоссеr, children will rеар mаnу benefits thеу will uѕе for the rеѕt of thеіr lіvеѕ.

Are We Too Busy for Our Children?

thesoccerdad-are-we-too-busy-for-our-children

I was “blessed” with the opportunity to sit at a park waiting for family members, friends and children to attend a Memorial Day picnic.  I was tasked with claiming an area of a shelter, setting up grills and waiting for three hours prior to the official party start time.  (You know black people will not arrive on time so I was more than likely 4 hours early).

Nonetheless, the park was empty.  When I say empty, I mean, 3 cars in the parking lot and my car is one of them.  The park is easily over 10 acres with a two mile walking/running track on the perimeter, 4 soccer fields, 4 tennis courts, 2 basketball courts, 2 baseball fields, 2 playgrounds, a lake (and a partridge in a pear tree).  In other words, the park is a pretty decent size.

Waiting for the extended family to arrive, I observed a father with his twin toddler boys.  They were running, jumping, tumbling, exploring, you know, normal things twin toddler boys at a park with open fields and playgrounds do–physical benefits for children.  On two separate occasions during the 30 minute visit, the boys yelled out to their dad, “Look at me, Daddy!  Look at me, Daddy!  Look at me, Daddy!”  Unfortunately, the boys yelled because their father was walking around, or sitting on one of the benches facing the playground, on his phone.  The tasks do not seem pressing, but they are distracting enough to take his mind, attention and focus away from his boys.

Are these actions that pressing?  Fidgeting with your phone instead of playing with your kids ain’t good.

Can we as fathers, as soccer dads, not put down our gadgets for 30 minutes to be engaged with our children?  I get it.  We have a lot of things pulling at us.  From work, to personal obligations to “Honey-do” lists, the tasks we need to complete are endless.  Plus, we need to check-in, tweet, share, comment and address any of the other daily multitude of social media tasks our smartphones notify us we must address “immediately.”

But again, 30 minutes for our children?  Is that too hard to ask?  Turn off the phone or only permit certain people to contact you.  Certain times with our children should be sacred and untouched.

Let’s do better, Dads!

 

UPDATE: The father never stopped being a tentative to his phone.  He wondered off multiple times on his phone and his boys continued to play by themselves.  

distracted-parent

 

Why The Soccer Dad Website?

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The Passion and Pain of the World’s Game

Why is a soccer dad website necessary?  Easy answer, the interest and passion for the world’s game is growing and needs a fun and serious venue to help parents, players and coaches address those changes.

soccer-dad-2014-fifa-world-cup

Obviously, technology has helped fuel that growth.  From more games on television and the internet to the increased global market, there is definitely a growth in the world’s game across the United States and the world.

The Passion

I created the Soccer Dad website to share my passion of the world’s game with others.

I began playing at the age of 5 in a United States neighborhood soccer league.  At age 8 and throughout my teenage years, I played for top level youth select teams in the mid-western part of the United States.  My later youth years included time with youth academy teams in the Netherlands and college soccer in the United States.

My coaching and training roles have ranged from professional players to the state level of the Olympic Development Program to the neighborhood level of three year-old children.  Personally, I have three children (two of which are currently old enough to play soccer.  I look forward to coaching the youngest one as well soon).

I watch as much soccer as possible whether it is on television or online and will play FIFA17 with my son as much as he wants (to lose).

To say I have a passion for the game would be a slight understatement.

The Pain

Through my experiences, I observed the fact that parents do not know things about soccer that are vital to their child’s growth and development.  There are questions parents need answers to

Some of those things are:

  • Why play youth soccer instead of another sport?
  • How do I pay for the increasing fees of youth soccer?
  • What are beneficial off-season training tips?
  • What are the best nutritional snacks between matches?
  • How do I discuss a loss with my child?

The primary reason for the lack of knowledge is due to the relatively newness of the sport in the United States, access barriers in other countries and the continued growing popularity of the sport across the world.

One of the biggest drivers of the sport’s growth is the increased amount of financial supporters in the game.  Successful businessmen are entering the sport, especially at the already successful clubs, and are demanding an increase in financial returns.  These financial returns demand trickle down results both positive and negative.  Just take a look at the recent FIFA corruption lawsuit and its global impact.

The modern day game of youth soccer has a lot of misunderstandings, lack of cohesion and organization.  The majority of parents did not grow up playing this game thus they are unable to guide their children in the right manner of preparation to grow the child’s talent in the game.  Keep in mind, I am not just talking physically, but emotionally and psychologically. These elements create frustration for the parents because they cannot confidently direct their children to the best steps in growing their soccer experience.

Lastly, the lack of high level organization impedes the sport from growing a solid traction—specifically, in the United States.  Top level organizations like US Soccer, USYSA, the national team programs and other interest groups, keep the sport’s growth fractured at best.  Hopefully this is an immaturity problem that will resolve itself as the sport continues to mature in the United States and in other emerging countries. Once there is a true hierarchical structure and development program, the sport can gain consistent measured traction.

What will be discussed

I created this website to provide an open discussion for soccer dads (and soccer parents) to discuss their tribulations and trials with the world’s game, especially the fun side of being a parent. This website will serve as a springboard to discuss all of those topics and others in various mediums.

I look forward to sharing with you my observations and learning yours as well.

Yours in Soccer,

The Soccer Dad