Born to Play AYSO



Fresh out of the shoot… and you play AYSO… right??? .  Who would have known that after being pregnant for 9 months, your baby should come out ready to strap on shin guards and put on their cleats.  Growing up as a soccer player in Manhattan Beach, I am very familiar with the AYSO program. I can remember all my teams and most of the girls still live in our same town.  The Tootsie Rolls was the best team… coached by none other than Kris Macker - owner of Bella Beach. Tootsie Rolls was our attempt at making a bunch of girls in brown jerseys look cute.  I can remember one of the years my best friends mom waiting in line to pick our team colors. It was almost like waiting to get the first released Cabbage Patch Doll. She somehow managed to get us the FIRST PINK jerseys (years prior, the colors were always, blue, black, green, red… nothing fun).  The Killer Flamingos were a force to be reckoned with. I turned into quite a soccer player, small and mighty… I continued to play for the ONLY club team at the time, The Hurricanes. Misty May - the VB Olympian played on our team, and traveled up from LB to play with us. Back then, we all knew her name was Misty, but she at the time prefered to be called by her Hawaiian name -     That was such a fun time. The girls who played club continued at Mira Costa and we had the same coaches for both teams. It is amazing to think there are so many teams now; Sand and Surf, Beach, Galaxy, Strikers, Pateadores. Such a different world… and so much competition for these young kids.

Giving birth to my first born, Kyle, it was just assumed that he would play AYSO.  He played his first year at age 5 on the Charging Crocs. Kyle was a fast little kid, he still has the speed of a cheetah…  and he thinks he is a cheetah - still. While he was on the field, he would almost get on all fours and run like an animal. It took everything I had to not be a yelling parent on the sidelines.  What the hell was he doing. How embarrassing. He galloped by me and said… “look mom, I’m making tracks.” That is what soccer was for him… making track marks with his cleats. Sigh…

Child two… Caden…  not a chance. Being my son with Autism, it was very unlikely he would play soccer.  I think at times I tried not think about his diagnosis and just jump. I signed him up to play, and thank god he was on a team with his pre-school buddies and a very cool dad for a coach.  I remember telling Caden that if he touched the ball I would give him a candy. He actually did it. “Mom, I did it”, he said. When I told him he had to do the same thing for the next 60 minutes, he said… “I’m done.”...    I was proud he even tried, but it was a painful season. Definitely to much going on for a kid who is struggling with focus and sensory overload.

Child three… Maguire… whole different story…  He is my one out of three when it comes to sports.  

I am not going to lie, it was very difficult to wrap my head around my kids not wanting to play soccer.  That is just what you did. You were born, and you played AYSO. Why was this so difficult for me??? I could assume that I didn’t birth the next Messi or Ronaldo, so why did it matter that they didn’t have an interest in soccer.  In a very affluently athletic sports community, having a kid who didn’t play sports made you abnormal. At the time, I didn’t want to be abnormal. I already had a kid that ran like a cheetah and one who was Autistic… couldn’t they just pretend to like soccer?  It took one game to many of whining, complaining and me feeling embarrassed and like I had wasted an entire morning watching my kid make tracks, that I realized … I am not going to force my kids to do anything they don’t want to do, even if it meant not playing AYSO.  

Baseball, basketball, karate, sailing, horseback riding, hip hop, skiing, surfing, skateboarding, acting, guitar, drums, swimming, art, tennis…  what would get my kids excite I was determined to expose them to as many things as possible so they could discover something they wanted to do instead of me forcing them to do something they didn’t.   I never wanted to be a parent who made their kids live the life I wanted them to live. I want my kids to discover who they are and be who they are meant to be all on their own.

Angela Wingard