Playing Soccer

The experiment of this site has been largely to write the news in song. But, one of the reasons it exists is to provide outlet for songs too niche to use anywhere else or, in some instances, to make at all. I used to have people say, “Why don’t you write a World Cup rap?” Or, “Why don’t you write an Obama rap?” Or, “Why don’t you write a rap about a panda or a really delicious sandwich or my grandpappy or rollerderby or candy corn or topical ointments? And by “people,” I mean mostly friends and colleagues in my professional life who apparently have little understanding of what reasonably constitutes a suitable topic for a rap song. And, my response would be (a) that sounds like a terrible idea for a song or (b) I’m not going to donate 1/12 of a published album to a song about hot yoga.

So, sometimes, in traditional music recording, there have been ideas you’d like to put to music but could never justify making room for in any published way. It was a matter of economics. But, this site, and type of project, affords exactly that luxury — to write in niche ways.

Included in this subset of niche songs are those of a mostly personal nature. Experiences or activities that are only meaningful to a few. Today’s entry would qualify as one such installment. Of course, the job of any musician is to take something personal or existential and make it universal. And, I hope even here there is something relatable to others.

I had the joy of coaching my daughters’ soccer team this fall. Neither of them are what you might call “athletes” or “competitors” or “aggressive” or “people-who-care-anything-about-sports.” They’re just two, pretty cool, little girls, who like to do math and make beaded bracelets and pull cat tails (tails of cats not the water reed) and paint with their daddy and scooter and bike and decorate nails and wear leggings under shorts under skirts under shirts. But, apparently, soccer is made at least hold-your-nose tolerable if Dad wears a yellow-roped whistle, and so I filled out the tome of a coach’s application provided by our area Caine-Halter YMCA. (The whistle may have been my idea.)
We’re blessed to have a really top-flight local Y, with sparkly new facilities like a saline pool and mushroom fountain and childcare and men over 50 who refuse to cover themselves in the locker room after showering off. Oh, wait, every Y has that. Anyway, it’s a really great spot.

So for youth soccer, our Y has a three-ring binder notebook of teams arranged by practice times and assigned coaches. As families register their children, they can just peruse the notebook and choose a practice time or coach that they prefer. In other words, there is no distribution of players by the Y itself. So, as a result, every year, one or two of the time slots will reach, either intentionally or by chance, a critical mass of girl participants (the league is co-ed at this age group). At the tipping point, the team will then rapidly flood to an all girls squad. I suppose having signed my own two girls up, when I volunteered, I had advanced us well down the path towards this windfall of girls — and, that’s precisely what occurred — Club Tabby in pumas.

On the night of our first practice, Hurricane Irene was bearing down on the Eastern Seaboard. While I was taking suggestions from the huddle of girls (who actually play on the team) as to what they wanted to be called, their parents (who do not actually play on the team) thought it would be real clever to call them “Team Irene” and shouted as much from the sidelines. Having known the parents and the girls for all of about 15 minutes, I was trapped between the possibility of disappointing either of two very enthusiastic camps to have chosen any one name over the other. And, this group of parents looked particularly high strung. (As it turned out, they were just crazy.) So, I made a quick compromise and “Team Irene Girl Power Dolphins” (TIGPD) was born. I love a good mashup. (Panthers and Hot Lava were near misses.)

I am very active with my son’s sports. He loves to play and I love to play with him. It’s the easiest thing I do as a father, to play ball with him. I have him slated for starting PG at Kentucky and the winter 2026 bobsled (I don’t even know if there is an Olympiad that year).

But, in all my time in organized sports as a participant and coach, there has been essentially nothing as satisfying as coaching these eleven girls. I can’t really explain it. It’s just been a blessing. Their play emphasizes all that is redeemable about youth sports and vaporizes the rest.

Not to mention, my cousin who is a student at Furman University, my alma mater, coached with me, completing some heretofore unknown and subconsciously sentimental life and family circle void I didn’t even know I had.

We didn’t win much, once. One grand draw. A handful of competitive losses. And, a blowout or two, or, maybe, it was three, details are hazy. But we ran and we laughed and we worked on our ball skills and ate ice cream and waved the flag of our childhood and this beautiful game.

It’s always a bad idea to reprise a classic. This world probably only has room for one YMCA song.

But, this is for my girls.

Performed by ipoet. Produced by pumpkinFoot.

Today’s song blog here:

7 thoughts on “Playing Soccer

  1. My childhood soccer coach used to write a poem about our team each season. We were always excited to hear what he’d written about us at the end of the season banquet. I always thought he was such a great guy! You may have just edged him out on the coolness scale since you set your poem to music and produced a video!

  2. Mission accomplished. That’s a really sweet story and all Kristen, but this post is about me and my girls’ soccer team, okay? Tell Micah I said hello. Thanks for listening!

  3. Have you ever seen the film “Kicking and Screaming?” haha. I am absolutely a fan of very personal things such as this and, often, I make up songs about things my niece and nephew do with me. So I can appreciate the sentiment here and the thought of making a track that really won’t fit into a publishing way.

  4. You are ONE COOL DAD making memories that will never fade. How blessed these girls are to have you as a coach and vice versa.

  5. @Conduct, I haven’t seen it. Is the Roc in that?? Oh and my first listen through the EP was super nice. Aim High??! Holy moly. Awesome work. Seriously.

    @clutch, and there was hardly any hyperbole there. I think half of those things, I’ve actually been asked about. Maybe not ointments. Although, I can sort imagine a real nice take on those.

    Okay, you know you’ve arrived when your Aunt-In-Law makes an appearance on your rap news blog and is impressed. Aunt Linda does not play around. She is a ferocious quilter and crafteur (probably not a word). Thank you, AL, and I can assure you that the blessing was 100% mine.

  6. Pingback: 64 Squares | ipoet laureate

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