Editor's Note: Please enjoy this Huffington Post blog entry put together by Ann Brenhoff that follows the journey of a U-19 AYSO team that didn't practice, but had an undefeated season and won three Area playoffs.
My 17-year-old daughter has been playing soccer since she was 5. One year of club soccer sent her running back into the arms of our local AYSO -- something that had little to do with her skill set and more to do with just wanting to have fun at a sport she loves.
I am happy to report that her Malibu AYSO Girls U19 team just won the area playoffs after an undefeated season. What I love most about that fact is this: They didn't hold a single practice all year. Not a one. In fact, on the roster of 21 girls, there were a couple of games where just enough players showed up to take the field and they played without subs. Still no pleading notes from the coach, no emails begging girls to show up. Nothing.
So how does a team that doesn't practice and doesn't insist that the girls come to games rise to the state level? Easy. To start, the coaches understood and made it clear from the start that this was only about having fun, so there was no pressure. We all like to win, but this wasn't about winning; it was about fun. Against a backdrop of looming college admissions, SAT prep classes and AP studies, plus stacks of homework best measured in miles not feet, the coaches realized that there wasn't room for One. More. Obligation. Not one more. So they wisely didn't create one.
Instead what they created was a breather. It was fun to hang out with whoever showed up for a game. It was fun for the parents too, especially now that most of the girls could drive themselves to the pre-game warmup and parents could just show up later to watch. Not that this team actually ever even really warmed up. Our warmups looked more like a coffee klatch the morning after a sleepover but with more stretching and a few casual practice kicks into the goal. It didn't matter; it was fun.
Click here to continue reading on the Huffington Post website.